Ice Breakers and frozen fingers

Oh dear me, the draft of my post disappeared! I’ll paraphrase what I think I said because a few days have passed and the memory isn’t as fresh. I’m not feeling so poetic tonight.

Last weekend, we were treated to a lot of snow and then it turned to frozen rain. The return to school coincided with treacherous road conditions. Our driveway and street were an ice rink. It was a lovely Winter Wonderland otherwise. When the kids returned from school, the sky was such a pretty colour and shimmering down on the ice covered snow.

The kids wanted to walk on the snow at the park. The idea of being able to walk on snow was quite novel to them. They were fascinated they were able to walk without sinking. It reminded me of when I was a kid walking home from school. I would take short cuts through the yards of three schools. Often the snow would be up to my knees. Out of boredom and an attempt to distract myself from the cold, I’d make it bit of a contest to see how many steps I could take without breaking through the snow. I was very light footed back then.

Then they discovered they could jump and crack the snow. Even more exciting than walking on snow, was smashing through the crusty layer of ice. Luckily, I had dashed home to retrieve my camera when I saw that the sky was so lovely. So I was prepared with camera in hand.

Then my daughter realized how cold she was feeling and we quickly hurried home. Which was good timing as my fingers were quite numb with cold from taking photos.

Darn, I wish I hadn’t lost my original post. It was much better. Ha!

So, here are some of the photos I took and a layout I made with them using supplies from the Pixels & Company Designers.

mr_jan_winter6 mr_jan_winter5 mr_jan_winter4 mr_jan_winter3 mr_jan_winter1 mr_jan_winter2 Photo by Melanie Ritchie drutter-d365-winter2015-lores

Keep warm and enjoy your Sunday!

Exploration and TMI?

Admit it, your curiosity is totally piqued. Why doesn’t curiosity have a “u” in it? I won’t be answering that question in this post.

Really, I just want to talk about plans for 2015.

I jumped on the One Little Word bandwagon again this year. My first year I chose the word “Authentic”. I was struggling with being myself and caring too much about whether others accepted me. It was the right word to play around with for 2013. Last year, I chose the word “Release”. I didn’t do most of the monthly assignments. My goal was to accept being “imperfect” and not feel I had to say yes to everything. It was a year to accept that things change and time moves on. Honestly, starting 2015 I do feel I’ve let go of a lot of baggage and expectations. Maybe a month ago I came up with my word for 2015. I had no plans for taking the OLW class. Then last week, I thought “what the heck, why not?” and signed up.

My word? Are you ready? It is EXPLORE. Yes, this is my year for trying out new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s my year for deciding what I like doing the best and then actively pursuing it.

What does that mean for you, dear blog reader? It means, you’ll get small doses of different types of content. One of the areas I want to focus on is my blog. I want to see what I like writing about and what I like creating. Expect to see my journey documented here. That’s where the TMI comes into play. Maybe it is just too much info that you don’t care for when I share my favourite body wash with you. Or maybe you’re just not into the wonders of gouache. Who knows, maybe I’m not either. Let’s find out together!

So with that, I will share three products I’m in love with at the moment. No, I didn’t receive them for free and the companies have no idea I care. Just sharing for the sake of “exploration”.

1. Satsuma body wash by Body Shop. So my day goes like this: Get up, drink coffee, get kids ready for school (yes, coffee comes first), freeze outside in the cold at the bus stop, come home and hop into the HOT shower. I treated myself to a bottle of this awesomely smelling body wash during Black Friday sales. It reminds me of junior high when The Body Shop was the “IT” place to shop. Back then I’d spend my allowance on lip balm and a bar of soap. I wish they still made Raspberry Ripple bubble bath.

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2. Pureness Balancing Softener by Shiseido. So I get out of the shower feeling all blissful and relaxed and smelling of an orange grove. Then I slap a little toner on my face. In the winter my face gets dry and itchy, especially after I wash it.I don’t care for the feel of anything on my face like heavy moisturizers (or makeup for that matter). I bought this product in the summer when they had an awesome sale. It is amazing stuff. A little bit goes a long way and my face feels soft and perfectly balanced. I can only tell I have something on my face because my skin feels good. Nothing more.

shiseido pureness softener

 

3. Fairy Godmother Soap by Lush. So in the evening I sometimes have a bath to relax my weary bones and calm my anxious nature. I like candy and even better than that, I like smelling like candy. This soap doesn’t dry out my skin like other soap can. Just plain delightful, it is. I received it as a gift and I love, love, love it.

Fairy Godmother Soap by LushI’d love to hear what body product you love and why. Hook me up in the comments.

Are you participating in One Little Word? What’s your word? I’d love to hear it.

The best of intentions

Always. Who doesn’t hope to accomplish all their yearly goals and tie them up in a neat little package with ribbon and bows just in time to ring in the new year? I do. I always think this year I’m going to accomplish it. Yeah, um, no. It didn’t happen. Ah well. At least I’m relaxed about it.

I’m going to start my year right though. I’m going to plan out projects, assess my goals and see what I want to get done for 2015. On my own terms. No guilt.

To help myself as best I can, I’m attending Simple Scrapper’s annual online event to plan out my year. Won’t you join me January 7th, as I Start Fresh?

 

To tie up those loose ends of 2014, I’m going to show you some layouts I worked on. I had wanted to work mainly with traditional scrapbook supplies but when time is limited I tend to work digitally.

  1. I made this page when I thought I was ahead of schedule. HAAAAA!!! Silly me.
    dec1_6x6lores
  2. By the second week of December, we were all sick with colds. Bronchitis came for a visit. I’m still waiting for it to leave.
    dec10layout-lores
  3. I switched things up after I returned from my parents after Christmas. I grabbed an old photo as I was inspired by a story starter prompt. I used a Simple Scrapper template to build the layout. It documented a weekend getaway during a challenging period of my life.Ritchie_2_600 (1)
  4. I used another Simple Scrapper template and story starter to profess my love of Pinterest in a layout. By the way, feel free to peruse my Pinterest gallery.
    ritchie_Jan15#1SSr

I will be seeing you soon. My biggest resolution is to be consistent with my blogging. Let’s just see how I do, shall we?

Happy 2015! Peace and Love to all!

Well, hello there! I hope you’re enjoying New Year’s Day.  I had a fun New Year’s eve at a friend’s house, chatting with neighbours while the kids played. My daughter even got to skate in their backyard rink. Definitely the best New Year’s eve we’ve had since moving here over six years ago. My son looked so sleepy and I told him we’d go home as I knew he was so tired. He said “Mom, REALLY I’m not tired. REALLY Mom, really!” and then he fell asleep in my arms. So funny! We headed home and my daughter asked to stay up to countdown. This was a first for her. I was happy to have my head hit the pillow at roughly 12:05am. Ahhhh!

I thought I’d share a few photos from my December.

I worked a bit on an album of the month of December but didn’t get very far. The usual reasons. Busy times and colds.

1. Here is my first page for December. It still needs a bit of detail work.

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2. I thought I’d take a lot of photos but the month seemed to zip by. I did take a photo of my cat. She’s 14. I’d just given her a haircut. The photo next to it is an ornament that looks like ribbon candy. My daughter thought it was bacon. Which is extra funny since she is vegetarian.

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3. I was pleased as punch to take this photo. “It’s a Small World” is my favourite ride at Disney World and I like the light in the photo.

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4. I spent an hour one afternoon playing around with shaped Bokeh. Fair to say, I haven’t perfected it yet. I punched shapes out of black cardstock and attached the paper to my lens. My photography goal for 2015 is to master that technique. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

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5. The wreath on my front door.

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Tomorrow I’ll show you some digital layouts I created in December.

Happy New Year!

Say it ain’t so, poor Elfie!

He had to go. It was a brief visit. Elf on the Shelf arrived at our home tonight.

You see, a couple years ago Elf on the Shelf appeared on our front door step. My daughter was not happy. She didn’t like the idea of an Elf spying on her and reporting back to Santa. Since we hadn’t named him yet, we were able to send him back to the North Pole. I figured that was the end of that.

A week or so ago, my daughter mentioned she wished the Elf would come back. She saw an Elf skirt at Target that she thought would look great on the little Elf. I told her to ask Santa to return the elf in her letter to him. The last two days she has continually talked about “Elf on the Shelf” and where she thinks Elf will reappear. After school and before supper she kept searching the house trying to find where he might be hiding. Then the strangest thing happened. She was at the kitchen table writing her letter to Santa. She had just written the sentence requesting for the elf. She went to use the bathroom and lo and behold, the elf was perched on the wreath next to the light switch. My daughter was so excited. However, by the time she had washed her hands, she became afraid. By the time she got back to the kitchen table, she said she’d like him to go back to the North Pole. Again, we hadn’t named him yet so it wouldn’t be a problem. I told her to cross out the request in the letter. She asked me if he would come back. I told her maybe he could come back next year if she was no longer afraid of him. She sadly shook her head and said she thought she’d never stop being afraid of him.


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The issue with the Elf’s exit was that my daughter had gotten her little brother all excited about the Elf. He didn’t want the Elf to leave. Usually he is the one afraid of things.

Although, we put the elf back on the wreath waiting for him to leave, it wasn’t enough. My daughter’s fear was deepening. So, we put him on the freezing front step. After the kids’ bath, we checked and he had left. Phew!

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My daughter was so scared she was walking down the hallway with a blanket over her head. I had to stay with her until she was fast asleep.

So much for that!

Winner of the Discover December Class Giveaway!

Eeks! I forgot to pick a winner last night! Better late than never, right?

Without further ado, the winner of Kelly Sill’s Discover December holiday class at Scrapaneers is…

… Susan!

My holidays will be special this year because I am going to Disneyworld with my 6 & 4 year old nieces! Can’t wait to see what happens!

Thanks for participating!

Discover December Class Giveaway!

How appropriate snow has arrived as I write this blog post. My daughter ran up to me and started singing and dancing about how winter has arrived and we can now play Christmas music. I guess that is what stirs her Christmas spirit.

I’m trying to think what gets me all jolly and festive. Maybe smelling chimney smoke while walking in the snow? It was the best part of walking home from school when I was a kid. Now it is a rare thing as very few working fireplaces remain. What else? Probably looking at my Christmas Scrapbook supplies. Yes, everything always comes back to Scrapbooking!

I think all of us “scrappers” can admit, we like to anticipate how we will capture the holiday magic in our albums. We start off with high hopes and many of us probably end up overwhelmed with half finished albums. Am I right?

Well, I have two things that might be helpful to you:

1. Sign up for Simple Scrapper’s FREE Seasonal event “Holiday Focus“. Ideas, planning, peer support, and more to help you document AND enjoy your holiday season!

and (drumroll, please)…

2. I’m hosting a giveaway to Kelly Sill’s Discover December holiday class at Scrapaneers. I’m particularly excited about this one as I had the pleasure and honour of designing the class kit. Plus, there are additional supplies designed by Karla Dudley and Taylormade Designs. How awesome is that?

The class was created with busy holiday schedules in mind. Kelly offers time-saving solutions to help you not only start but FINISH your holiday album.

 

Wouldn’t you like to be take part in the fun? The first is as simple as signing up! For the latter, I am offering a giveaway for one person to get the class for FREE! Please leave a comment telling me how you plan to make your holidays special this year. A winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, November 18th after 9pm (EST).

Can’t wait to see your comments! Happy Sunday!

Did you love playing board games as a kid?

I did and I still do. I have so many good memories of them. Well, except for the game “Aggravation”. I detest that game. I won’t even go into it. Recently, I received a copy of “Monopoly Junior” from Hasbro because I am a reviewer/tester for Influenster. I don’t like blathering on too much about promotional products I receive but I was asked to talk about which game I loved as a kid. That type of question is right up my alley. I thought it would make a good scrapbook layout, which I will soon make. In the meantime, I thought a blog post might be fun too.

First, I had to see which games are made by Hasbro. Luckily, they make a lot of the games I loved as a kid.

Here are my memories of some of their games. Maybe this will give you some Christmas list ideas!

1. Chutes & Ladders. This is one of the first games I remember playing. My grandparents owned a copy and kept it in their coffee table in the basement. It was such an awesome mid-century modern piece of furniture. Not that I thought so at the time. Then it was just a place to hold board games and crossword puzzles. I liked Chutes & Ladders because it makes me think of my Grandma because she was really good about playing games with us (me, my sister, and my two cousins). I didn’t like the snakes though. 1. They scared me. 2. They make you lose!

2. Candy Land. I loved Candy Land! I remember playing it at a classmate’s house in kindergarten. Yummy candy pictures all over the board. My imagination loved it. It is a great “first” board game as you don’t need to know how to read. Very simple to play. Fun, bright colours. Perfect for 3-5 years of age. By six, I remember thinking it was pretty boring.

3. Operation. I got this for Christmas one year. I LOVED IT SO MUCH! It appealed to my love of small tiny pieces and electronics. I didn’t really like the buzzing noise because I startled easily. I did love the little tweezers and picking out the little body parts out of the poor guy’s body. Super fun game! Also great because a kid can play it by themselves or with friends. Nowadays, they have themed versions. My son has a Tow Mater version. I’ve seen a Buzz Lightyear one too.

4. Hungry Hungry Hippos. The game kids love and parents love to hate. It’s loud, obnoxious, and WAY too much fun! Oh man, that was an awesome game! I loved playing it with my sister and cousins. Bang,  bang, bang! There is something so rewarding about getting your prettily coloured hippo to eat all those balls up before anyone else has a chance. I love how the mouth extends. Snap, snap, snap! My kids love it too. However, I’ve noticed the marbles are now made of plastic and I think it affects how easily the balls are eaten. Something about the weight of the marbles. Maybe that’s just me.

5. Connect 4. I think this might have been my sister’s game. Oooh, I love that game! This is one of those games that never gets old. I like playing it with my kids. I like games where I can put things in a row or make patterns. It’s a great introduction to strategy games. My six year old is learning how to play it properly. Earlier than six, kids like to place the tokens but they don’t play it with rules. This game is also now available in lots of themes. I saw a My Little Pony version recently. Don’t tell my daughter!

6. Memory. I remember playing that on Christmas with my cousins. I’m all about memory matching. Again, I like looking for patterns. Memory games are fun and very educational. It’s a great beginner game but big kids like it too. When I was young, there was just one generic game. Now it comes in nearly a million (slight exaggeration) different versions. Name a character you like and there is probably a Memory game available. We have a Christmas Disney version that I bring out every December. It is a very affordable game and you can keep it simple (only play with a few matches) or make it more challenging using all the pieces. I played this game a lot in Japan with my young students.

7. Perfection.  My sister had this game. I had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved playing with the pieces and putting them in their correct places but I HATE being startled. It gave me anxiety to race against the clock to get all the pieces in place before the pieces all flew up towards me. Almost as scary as a jack-in-the-box. Both are fascinating and terrifying all at the same time. Funny thing. My son has this game and he is like me. He insists we keep the timer turned off. He just wants to put the pieces in their correct spots without being startled. I’d say this game is good for ages 4 and up.

8. Twister. This game always feels so retro. I think it did even when I was a kid. It’s fun for a bit. Good for sleepovers and birthday parties, if I recall correctly.

9. Yahtzee. This was another game my grandparents had in their coffee table. I never liked the brown/orange/yellow box it came in. I overdosed on those colours in the 1970s. Aside from that, it was mostly fun. Part of my issue as a child, was that I had bit of a short attention span. Also, I’m not overly fond of numbers, especially odd ones. Yahtzee is all about numbers. It’s like a card game but with dice. My favourite part was shaking them in the cup and rolling them onto the table. I also liked saying “YAHTZEE!” Last year I bought a PacMan Yahtzee for my husband at Christmas. It is awesome. The cup to hold the dice is actually a big PacMan head. How cool is that? They have all sorts of themed versions now. It’s a good game for older kids. My 6 year old played with us last week but she got bored after a few rolls. Maybe when she is 7 or 8 she’ll be more into it.

10. Trouble. Sorry. Games that are named after a negative word aren’t fun. Did I mention the game “Aggravation”? It’s like “Trouble” and “Sorry”. They’re all games where I get frustrated and lose. Every. Time. But hey, don’t let that stop you… the rest of my family LOVES these games. Maybe cuz, they, uh, always win? Maybe you will too.

11. Battleship. When I hear this game mentioned, I always want to say “You sunk my battleship!” Always. I have strong memories of this game. I am very tactile and visual. I loved the ship pieces and the little pegs. I liked the blue board the pieces stuck into. Oooh, pretty. As a kid, I had a hard time playing the game and I couldn’t sit still for the whole game. However, I think it is a great game. Especially for rainy days and snowstorms. I’ll buy it for my kids if they ever show an interest.

12. Clue. Another awesome game! I think I got this when I was around 10 or 11 for Christmas. I can vividly remember sitting on our living room floor playing for the entire visit with my cousins. We were obsessed with it. I love the mystery aspect of it. It’s like a logic problem. I loved the board with all the different rooms on it, and all the characters and weapon pieces. The only downfall was that I played it SO much, it got old. Really fun game!

7. Scrabble. If you could only ever have one board game, I would pick this one. That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Monopoly. This was a game I played with my parents and sister on weekends when I was young. It would take all day. Maybe all weekend. I’d quit long before they were finished. I was the youngest so I’d get frustrated when they all understood the rules better than I did. It is a hard game to grasp when you’re little. That’s why I really love the Monopoly Junior version that is meant for younger kids. Now that I’m older I love Monopoly. I have a Coca-Cola version and a Rudolph version.

9. Trivial Pursuit. I remember the year this game was released. It was so popular. All the parents of my friends were having Trivial Pursuit parties. My family would play it at holiday gatherings. The kids would play too but we’d probably only get a rare question correct. Luckily now there are so many versions, any age group can play. My husband will probably always win though. He has a lot of knowledge in his noggin’.

10. Scattergories. This is a game I tend to win. I’m good at coming up with words for categories. I like that the game doesn’t really repeat itself. It’s great for big groups and parties. I hope to play it with my whole family at Christmas when the kids are older. That was one of the things I loved most about getting together with family at holidays when I was a kid. We’d all sit around the cleared dining room table and play cards or board games. Anyone could join in. I liked it best when we played a board game as I wasn’t the best at cards.

So, for a little added fun, I went and found some slides to go along with this post.

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The top photo is great because it shows several things: 1. My Grandma playing a game with us. 2. The classmate I played CandyLand with on a different occasion, and 3. the living room looks exactly the way it does in my memory when I played Clue at Christmas with my cousins.

The bottom photo is of my dog playing Connect Four.

The middle photo is of me playing with my gum. It has nothing to do with board games but isn’t it funny?

What was your favourite board game as a kid?

What a Beautiful Day!

I had no idea I’d enjoy today so much.

Today is my husband’s birthday. Today is Remembrance Day. Today is unseasonably warm.

The kids woke up and were excited to wish their Daddy a Happy Birthday! Then when it was time to get ready to go to school, my son became very upset. I realized he thought there was no school because it was a birthday. Makes sense. The kids always have their birthdays during spring break. My last birthday was on a holiday. Last year on my husband’s birthday, we flew to Disney World. So yeah, no wonder he thought he had the day off!

I attended the kids’ school’s Remembrance Day service. This is the first year I’ve gone. I even spiffied myself up because it’s an event that deserves respect. I put mascara on for things like that. I entered the gym and saw this very tall Mountie standing by the wall. Woah! He looked so regal. Then I realized he was the Dad of one of my daughter’s classmates. Standing nearby were several other men and women in uniform, standing with their spouses. Mostly Military. I recognized many from various kid related activiites. My thoughts: Oh, that’s the lady who speed-crochets at swim lessons. I didn’t know her husband was military. Hey, it’s so and so from blast ball. He’s got a lot of medals.

Living in Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital, we have a lot of active duty service personnel. This is a very different experience from how my Remembrance days were spent as a child. I seem to recall that the day was a holiday when I was very young. At some point the rules changed and I would attend school on that day. I think we had assemblies but there were no outside visitors. We would have just talked about the importance of the day. To me, the day was about soldiers from wars that took place when my Grandpa was young. The men selling poppies looked like my Grandpa. The day was more of a history lesson. Such a contrast to today’s assembly. I feel very grateful for being in the presence of people who work so hard and put themselves at such risk, to help keep the peace.

I was about to say my favourite part of the ceremony was when students brought handmade poppy wreaths to the stage. They were creative and lovely. That made me a bit teary-eyed. I think that ties with the song the primary choir sang in English. It was so lovely!

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After the ceremony, I saw some other parents I knew. They were about to sort the Lost & Found bin so I offered to help. First, I peeked into my daughter’s classroom. She ran out to give me a quick hug. Then I saw my son’s teacher walk by so I asked her to say hello to my son for me. She invited me to come say hello to him in the classroom. Yes, please! He didn’t see me come in, which was great because it meant I could observe him being himself at school. He was busy laughing and chatting with his classmates as they began to eat their lunch. He opened a container and saw a dill pickle and said “Pickles? AGAIN?” and they all laughed. When he did look over at me he didn’t quite know what to think. So he went back to inspecting the pickle. His teacher asked him to join me for a picture holding a poppy wreath. It took us a few times of repeating the request before he came over. He was really obsessed with eating the pickle. I wonder if he noticed I cut his carrots into poppy shapes? We got a few photos taken and I said goodbye to everyone. I am extremely pleased and relieved he is spending his days in such a great learning environment with a very involved and caring teacher and assistants. He is thriving and I couldn’t be happier!

I returned to the volunteer parents and put on some latex gloves to start sorting the piles of clothing in the Lost & Found. Then after that was done, I went to do a little shopping. I bought my husband some meat for his birthday. I went to the local “FarmBoy” grocery store and approached the clerk at the prepared food section.

Me: Excuse me, could I ask you a question?
Nice counter lady: Yes, what can I help you with today?
Me: I’m vegetarian but my husband isn’t. It is his birthday today and I’d like to buy him some meat…
Lady (raises her eyebrows and holds back a laugh)
Me:… what would you recommend? What do you think is really good here?
Lady: If he wants a lot of meat, I’d get him the chicken and ribs with potatoes. It is a really good value for what you get.
Me: Thanks!

When I got home, I thought everything looked beautiful. The house. The street. The warm weather felt beautiful. I wondered where the heck my good mood came from. I was feeling lucky, grateful, and blessed.
My husband felt grateful when I surprised him with his big plate of meat. He even has leftovers for tomorrow! Ok, he liked his other gifts too.

And now, I am falling asleep at the computer. I’m sure I had other things to say and perhaps a proper ending to this post, but I need to put my head on a pillow. Pronto.

“Game Night” with Monopoly Junior

Today, we had “game night” except that it was actually 2pm. Details, details.

Last week I got an email from Influenster asking me to check my mail. On Friday, I opened my mailbox to find a copy of Monopoly Jr. courtesy of Hasbro. As part of their social media campaign, I’ve been asked to test out and review their product.

First thing I did? I yelled “Kids, we got something in the mail!” and let them open the box. They were pretty excited and didn’t even stop to ask why we got a board game in the mail. They were immediately drawn to the little plastic tokens. I agreed they could hold them but advised them not to lose the pieces. My daughter took the orange cat and black dog. My son took the blue boat and green car. I told them they’d have to wait until Sunday to play the game.

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As promised, we set up the game today in our basement where we now keep all the toys and play area. It’s a work in progress. Or should I say “mess in progress”. Anyway, here is what I thought about the game.

1. As much as I love board games and playing with my kids, I have childhood memories of Monopoly being the neverending game. I had a moment of dread wondering just how long this game would take. I had meals to make.

2. When we opened the box, there were two sheets of cardboard with pictures of the token animals. Each had to be punched out. No problem for us, as my daughter was thrilled to do it. I opened the cards and placed them on the chance spot. I read the instructions but was distracted with questions from the kids. So, I missed the part that said the game starts by having everyone pick a card to determine which token piece they get. I hadn’t realized there were cards like that and had put them in with the chance cards. Which was just as well as the kids already knew which character token they wanted. Except my son had already lost the blue boat token. Oops! Later when playing the game, I picked up a chance card only to discover it was all in french. Again, I realized I hadn’t been careful and had put all the chance cards together. There was one pack of french and one of english. Oops! It was fine as my husband could read it. It pays to read your instructions carefully.

3. The board is a very simplified version of the regular Monopoly. The board itself is smaller. There are fewer properties. Every property is part of a colour pair and both properties have the same value.  The properties have fun names. When you buy a property, you place a cardboard piece with your token picture on it (ex. orange cat) at the top of the property. When you land on someone’s property, rent is the same cost as the purchase price. If they own both properties, you pay double. There are no utility spots. There is no community chest but there are chance cards. There are no houses or hotels.

I appreciated the simplicity as the kids were easily able to follow the rules. My kids are 4 and 6 and had no problems.

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3. The game was engaging. Although, my daughter still had to get up every now and then to perform some dance steps and show us her socks. “Yes, I see your socks. Yes, they are ‘My Little Pony’. Yes, I like them. Please roll, it’s your turn.”

4. The truth? My kids were most interested in taking turns being the banker. I have no idea why that was so fascinating to them. My son was really proud of it. “See Mom, I am really good at this. I’m a good banker.”

5. Anything lacking in the game? My husband was concerned about the kids shifting the board and it being unclear which properties were owned by whom. I said that is pretty standard issue for any board game played by kids. He said it would be helpful if players were to hold onto property cards in addition to the little cardboard piece on the property, just in case the pieces were shifted. I agreed that would be better.

6. We didn’t quite make it to the end. The game was going pretty quickly but my son decided it was time to play another game and my daughter was dancing around a lot between turns, so my husband and I shared a glance that said “yup, that was good” and we finished up. I went to make supper and he played a different game with the kids.

All in all, I’d say that was a very successful game. We’ll definitely play it again and again. I think it is a great way to introduce your kids to Monopoly. I have a Coca Cola version, and a Rudolph version of Monopoly that I hope to play when the kids are older. Until then, I think we’ll get a lot of use out of this one.

Thanks Hasbro! Thanks Influenster!

I’m such a school girl!

Really? No. For the past three weeks I’ve been immersed in an online class I’m taking at Lilla Rogers Studio School called Make Art That Sells.  We have two more weeks to go for Part A of the class. So far we’ve covered bolt fabric, Home Decor and Children’s Book Illustration. Every week we get a mini assignment to sketch, sketch, sketch a topic. Then midweek we get the actual assignment which utilizes the sketching we’ve been doing.

If you’re not already familiar with Lilla Rogers, she is an internationally successful illustration agent and artist. She represents several extremely talented artists. You might not know their names but I’m almost certain you’ve seen their products. Lilla will mention her artists’ products in her lessons as examples and often I’ll find myself thinking “oh, I’ve seen that! I didn’t know she represented that artist!” One of the books I love from our local library is by her artist, Mike Lowery. One of the fabrics in my dining room table cloth is by her artist, Suzy Ultman.

The class has been challenging, emotional, exhausting, enlightening, and rewarding. A rollercoaster for sure. Lilla is a big believer in staying positive and to keep making things you love. Don’t compare yourself to others. We’re all in different stages of our careers and at different skill levels. I think because she is an artist herself, she knows what kind of insecurities we have as artists. One of the biggest is thinking we’re not good enough. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is easy to give up when you’re browsing online galleries and Pinterest and are blown away by all the amazing talent out there. Ultimately, you have to sit down, pick up a pen and paper (or whatever medium you use) and make something that makes you happy. Practice until it looks the way you like it. That is really all you can do.

Ok, I’ve digressed a bit. My personal struggles have been over getting into the mini assignment. I get very restless and fidgety. I resist the assignment. The first week, my son was home sick for three days and on the third day, there was a crisis in Ottawa which completely distracted me. The next day I focused and made up for lost time. I liked my submission but it could have been better had I been able to use my time efficiently. I was pretty darn excited when it made the review for class where Lilla talks about several pieces and explains how they worked well. The product we were to design was for bolt fabric.

matsa_wk1_mritchieLORES

The second week, I needed to sketch more but again resisted the process. I’m still unsure why I’m having a hard time just drawing for the sake of drawing every morning. I have to think about this. Luckily, I had a very strong idea of what I wanted my art to look like and was thrilled when it ended up looking the way I envisioned it. That rarely happens. The assignment was to design a plate for the Home Decor market.

matsa_wk2_mritchielores

The third week. Oh my! I was initially so excited to learn about illustrating Children’s books. A long time dream! I had some sort of fearful flight response to it. I tried to run as far away as possible from the assignment. I was like my son when telling him it is time for swim lessons. Noooooooooooooooooo!!!! I did not want to do it! Yet I did want something to submit. I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to push myself to learn something new. So I sat down the day before the assignment was due and started drawing. I didn’t stop until it was done. It wasn’t as fabulous as I would have liked but that was definitely my own fault. I could have built it up more had I invested more time into it.

MELANIE_RITCHIE_TORTOISE_WK-3

I’m not going to beat myself up for my shortcomings. It is more of an exploration into my process. Why do I resist learning some things? Why do I react this way? What do I enjoy creating? What rituals work for me? What habits do I need to change? All very good stuff if I’m open to finding a better process.

I’m excited to see what next week brings. Hopefully I might even embrace it!

Designing for December

One day in the summer I got asked by the lovely and talented Kelly Sill to create a digital kit for her upcoming Holiday class at Scrapaneers. I said “Heck ya, I’m interested!” and that was the truth.

I’ve been a fan of Kelly for quite some time. She has a style that is all her own. A very clean sleek look to both her digital products and her own scrapbooking. I followed her blog posts to see what new projects she was working on. So, I was pretty happy when she began instructing classes.

Discover December” is going to be packed with oodles of holiday goodness. She will show her students how to create their own 8″x8″ album with the templates, digital kit, word art, glitter styles, and overlays included in the class kit. Seriously, oodles of goodness. I was lucky enough to create the digital kit and was thrilled to find out Karla Dudley was creating matching glitter styles and Taylormade Designs was creating matching word art. Very very cool!

Here’s a peek of the class kit included with enrolment.

DD14_launch-banner-new

Right now the class is on sale until November 10th. Class begins on December 1st. Be sure to check it out!

Courage my love

Toronto at 40

October 14, 2014

Maybe I’ll feel like Mary Richards in the opening credits of Mary Tyler Moore. A free spirited and ambitious woman out on the town on her own terms. Um, maybe. More likely, I’ll look a tad bit more disheveled, despite my best attempts to look stylish. I’ll look a bit more compact like someone is trying to turn their full screen into wide screen. Not so tall. Not so skinny.

I used to live in Toronto. It feels like a past life. I attended university there. I lived there off and on for most of my twenties. I left on what I’d consider bad terms. Toronto and I had a nasty break-up.

The last time I visited Toronto by myself, I was 30. I took the train for the day. I met up with a friend and we wandered around on a cold winter day. I had a handful of other brief visits to the city over the next ten years.

Now I am 40. I wonder how my view of the city will change. It has certainly changed since I last lived there 12 years ago. More so, I have changed. I am eager to visit my old haunts but will any of them still be there? Will they feel familiar or will it be clear, I have moved on?

Well, it is now the beginning of November. I had a wonderful time in Toronto. It was surreal walking into my old territory as a “middle aged” woman. Yikes, this is the first time I’ve ever referred to myself as middle aged. You saw it here first, people.

First thing we did after I got off of the train, was eat supper at a local pub called C’est What? which is on Front Street. I first went there on a double date when I was 20. Back then, it was a cozy basement pub with stacks of board games with a small menu of appetizers. The place appealed to literary types and perhaps students. Now it is a full on restaurant catering to local foodies. Most of the people looked like business types. Instead of being the youngest in the place, looking at the 30 somethings thinking they looked old, I was one of the older people looking at the 30 somethings thinking they looked young. Yes, the tables have turned. I did feel a bit of superiority knowing I’ve been coming to this place for 20 years. I felt I should maybe get a badge to wear.

I was happy to see my fast walking pace returned once I was in the city. I used to be really speedy but lately I’m the slowest when walking with friends. I guess I’m used to walking with children. Apparently, my speed is location specific.

I noticed that things have slightly changed but mostly stayed the same. Actually, I was surprised to see most changes were improvements.

The other thing that got my attention was how much smart phones have changed the way I experience Toronto. No need for a TTC (transit) map. Just check my phone (borrowed my husband’s phone actually). Can’t find a store? Check my phone. Have a question for a friend? Text them. Send a photo. Feeling a bit lonely? Instagram a photo to share the experience. See an interesting sign? Take a photo. Bored waiting for a bus? Edit some photos for Instagram during the wait. How crazy different would my life have been if we’d had smart phones at 20? I remember my frosh week at York University. The fine art students had a scavenger hunt that took us all through downtown. My group got terribly lost and everything was a challenge to find. Now, it would be a breeze. Such a different world we live in.

So, I had a great time. I got to eat lots of food (Chinese Vegetarian, Coffee, Sri Lankan, Coffee, Raw Vegan, did I mention Coffee?), and visit neighbourhoods and stores I’ve missed. It was just the sort of mini vacation I needed.

Here are a few scrapbook layouts I made that relate to my trip:

ad_astorycaptured09_04-TO-lores

For the above layout, I included a photo from my view on the train when I arrived Thursday, my root beer at C’est What, a view of walking in the rain after we left the pub, the dessert section of Loblaws and the spot where the centre ice used to be.

Courage my love

The layout above is about the Friday, when we walked around downtown and visited China Town and Kensington Market. It was a great day.

The layout below has photos which were taken during this trip on the Saturday. The layout reflects on where I was the day of September 11, 2001.

ritchie_nov14_story6_lores

Have you visited a city or place from your past and had a similar experience? I’d love to hear your stories.

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The last two layouts were designed with templates from the monthly membership at Simple Scrapper.

I feel a blog post coming on! and a promotion!

I just found some drafts of blog posts that I thought I’d published. Oops!
I guess now is better than never. My kids both started school full time this fall. I wasn’t sure how I’d adjust. So far, we’re all doing just fine. Phew!

Our fall has been spent with school, after school activities and visits to fall fairs. We just finished our Thanksgiving weekend which ended with a really lovely walk through the woods.

Most of the summer I fretted over how our fall would turn out. This is what was written in my blog post draft:

I am sitting in the chair where I nursed my babies. Now it has become the chair where I sit at my laptop and design things (illustrations, scrapbook layouts, paragraphs). Not so long ago, I would rock my babies to sleep while my mind wandered. Usually I was thinking up design ideas I could create once my baby was fast asleep in their crib. Now I will sit here designing while thinking about my children away at school for the day. How did things change so quickly?

There were many days in the past 6 or so years where I really wanted just a few minutes to myself. It was sometimes frustrating knowing I couldn’t work on a project that was whirling around in my head. Sometimes I’d sit on the couch feeling incredibly sleepy and bored. I didn’t want to watch Wonder Pets, or play with Little People play sets, or keep my eyes open. Invisible toothpicks were keeping them open. Those were the days when my kids needed constant supervision. Now I can leave the room and let them play and explore on their own. I seem to always hear or intuit when they need me. Yesterday, I hooked up two microphones to the TV at my daughter’s request. I let them perform while I went to the craft room to tidy. I had to laugh when I heard my daughter whisper “Don’t tell Mommy I did that!”. Next time she might not want to whisper that into a microphone.

I haven’t blogged this summer. I had so much I wanted to say about all the changes about to take place in my life as I shift from “Stay at Home Mommy” to “Work at Home Mommy While Kids Are At School”. Although I look forward to getting things done around the house and returning to my creative life, I have to admit I am struggling a bit. The house will seem too quiet. My youngest seems too young for all day school every day. He refused to admit he was four for the past several months because he knew that was the age where you go off to school. Yesterday, we went to the park. They pretended I was their teacher and they put on their backpacks to “go to school”. My son came up to me and said “Teacher, did you know? I just turned four!”. I could have cried. I do believe that was my son’s way of saying he is ready to go to school or at least willing to accept it is a fact that he is going. Then we left the park and I got teary-eyed walking behind him watching him hold the straps on the backpack, proudly strutting down the path.

It doesn’t help that all of this happens right as I turn 40. To the day, in fact. Crazy, isn’t it? So many chapters ending all at once. Luckily, I’m excited to see what happens next.

I wanted to blog about this but I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and process it. I put it off. Kind of like my son refusing to be four. 

So for the most part, I was worried about nothing. My son had a week where he did not want to get on the bus but he eventually agreed that he was having fun all day. I am enjoying getting back into my creative work.

One thing that occurred to me recently is that I am so grateful that I took the time these past 6 years to document my daily life. The days often felt endless with one day blurring into the next. It took me by surprise when everything shifted this fall. Luckily, I did a good job of taking note of what made that time so special. I have photos, funny quotes, our highlights, and our struggles all nicely tucked into scrapbooks to be cherished over the years. I am SO happy I did this.

If you’re eager to document your life in the same way, there is a promotion at Simple Scrapper for their membership program. I’ve found it has been a wonderful resource and a real motivator to stay on track with your memory keeping. Today is the last day of the promotion where you’ll receive two e-books (Everyday Storyteller Vol.1 & Vol.2) in addition to the annual membership (which is packed with benefits). I wouldn’t recommend this if I didn’t think it was pretty awesome.

Here are some of the layouts I did over the past few months:

sts_windowsystems_fair-lores LOtypenewsl-lores sts_windowsystems_toadstool-lores sts_windowsystems_frogs-lores aug24_30_14-lores ritchie_sep14_3-lores Ritchie_Sep14-story_loresreadyforschoolLO-lores WWC__StitchedDownVol6__Lgoofball_lores WWC__PunchedOutVol1_kids-loresritchie_aug14_story10_lores ritchie_aug14_1ritchie_oct14_story3_loresritchie_Oct14_5_lores

Let the haters hate.

There are few things harsher than criticism barbed with cruelty. As a blogger and designer, I put myself at risk whenever I publish a post or create an illustration.

If you wear your heart on your sleeve, it can be expected it will become bruised from time to time. Exposing one’s heart, joy, soul and love is risky business. Voicing a thought, idea, opinion will always invite a response. Good or bad.

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon of “haters”. People who comment on blogs with venemous insults. Almost as if they have picked a blog post at random where they can unfurl their frustrations. Is this some new form of release? Conveniently anonymous and seemingly without consequence? How much of it is random, and how much relevant to the content of a post? Is the hater’s intent to besmirch, to disagree, or just to lash out at anyone accessible?

There are a few bloggers I really admire and I’ve read the hateful things others have said after their posts. These vitriolic comments are far outnumbered by the thoughtful and considerate ones but we all know one negative word can blind us to the positive.

I’ve wondered how much I should share on my blog. How much anyone cares? One blogger/photographer I adore is very hesitant to share her stories for fear of the negative feedback. This past year I’ve wondered how this can be avoided. I would love for her to blog anyway. How many wonderful stories has she held back out of fear?

Of course there are haters in real life too. I’ve met a bully or two in my day. I have always been left wondering how I can fix myself to be more likeable, to have avoided being disliked. Then one day it occurred to me that even God (in any religion) has haters. How more perfect could I be? If even an omniscient, all powerful existence can be so disliked, then why am I trying to avoid a few insults? The Dalai Lama has haters. Gandhi had haters. The Queen has haters. Oprah has haters. Leaders have haters. People who don’t have haters probably just don’t say much.

Much worse than amazing people being hated? Notorious people being loved for their violence and crimes. If despicable criminals can be so revered by some then we simply have to accept that some people live a very sad and limited existence. We cannot be silenced by their words or actions.

Haters cannot be avoided. So, it is best to let the haters hate. They clearly need the release. Maybe it will keep them from taking out their frustrations on someone in their actual real life surroundings. Maybe.

Why do they hate? My theory is that too many people have not learned to love or have been so hurt they can no longer love. In order to connect with others they need to feel strong emotion. The only emotion available to them is hate. Or anger. Their need to comment with horrible words is their desperate need to connect with humanity, however misguided.

My point? Do not stop creating, writing, or sharing. Be inspired by the ones who appreciate your insight and share your worldview. Let their joy be your motivation. Write for the haters too. Their comments are proof that they are listening. They are being affected by your words. Underneath their shields of insult, you have hit a nerve.

Most importantly, create for yourself. Your own joy matters most of all.

joy2

 

Hangin’ Out with our friend, Raccoon

I had such an awesome weekend! Lately I’ve had lots of stories I want to blog about and I’m hoping to get back into a regular writing routine. Today, something amusing happened I thought I’d share.

My daughter and I were crafting. I looked out the window and started laughing. I called for my husband and told him to bring my son upstairs quickly. My daughter was laughing even though she didn’t know what was so funny until I pointed. We have a very large tree at the end of front lawn. Lounging on a branch was a very relaxed raccoon. If I were a raccoon, I’d want to be this one. Just hangin’ out in a tree without a care in the world.

I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple photos. My daughter and I ran downstairs and out the front door. We tiptoed our way down the driveway as I snapped photos hoping not to scare away our new friend. He could not have cared less. He just stared at us. “Ho hum” his gaze spoke as it met our eyes.

So, I am here to share a couple of those photos.

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1. The view out our window. See the branch hanging out over the street? That is where I spotted the raccoon. I happened to glance up from my scrapbook layout.

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2. A close up of the above photo. That’s what I saw from my window.

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3. The photo from the end of our driveway where our gazes met. Ho hum, indeed!

Hope your day was equally relaxing!

Thanks for Everything, HRH Dalai Lama!

I am a fainter. No really, I am.

So, I was sitting in the chair at the Dentist’s office with my heart racing. The dental assistant and I were waiting for Dr.Dentist to arrive. I was about to have four wisdom teeth extracted. If you ask me, wisdom teeth were wrongly named. Everything about them is dumb. Good riddance, stupid teeth.

I could have gone to the oral surgeon to have them taken out. I would have been nicely asleep for the whole process. I choose to stay awake and get them yanked at my regular Dentist’s office. Why? Going somewhere new and different and being “put under” scared me. I didn’t want to have to drive far. Much easier for me to drive just a few minutes and sit in a familiar place. Even if it meant being very very much aware of what was going on. Ugh.

I was given headphones and a remote. Melanie, look up, look way up. Oh look, There’s a TV with Seth Rogen on Ellen. Technology is a very nice distraction. My biggest fear was fainting. A very legitimate fear that always felt like it was seconds away from happening. Deep breaths and staying calm was my mission. TV was a great start.

As the procedure began and the discomfort and unsettling pops & cracks could be heard and felt, I was happy to close my eyes and listen to Interior Designers discuss the latest bathtubs and lighting fixtures. As the tugging and pulling continued, I had to dig deep inside my soul and find some calm. I pictured the Dalai Lama and his pleasant countenance. I imagined runaway slaves enduring hardships as they found they way to freedom on the underground railroad. I envisioned what people had to endure in the 1800s when they had toothaches. My mind wandered to the millions and billions of people who have suffered more than I ever will sitting in a clean, sterile, dentist’s chair. I thought of Anne Frank. I pictured the artwork of Katie Daisy. I silently cheered on the dentist. “You can do it! Almost There! One more yank and you’ve got it! GANBATTE! Let’s do this thing!”. It was a bold approach I thought. Then it made me a bit queasy to be so involved. So I sank back into my stillness and tried to meditate once more.

I only had a raise my hand a few times. Usually when I thought my jaw was about to break. Only once when I could feel too much. Finally, I opened my eyes and the Dentist told me were all done. Wahoo!

Then I went home and the real fun began. Ugh. I only fainted once. Aren’t you proud of me?

dlbestill

Meditating on these images during my extraction.

 

Two new layouts and a Happy National Scrapbook Day!

Happy National Scrapbooking Day everyone! I’m convalescing on the sofa bed in my craft room on this gloomy day. My mood cannot be dimmed as today is a happy day! I would like to be creating layouts but I have just enough energy to do a little writing and take frequent naps. I had my wisdom teeth yanked out 48 hours ago so priority #1 is getting some R&R.

In April, I worked on decluttering and organizing the house and my craft room. The Easter Bunny came for a visit and left the kids lots of treats. I had the pleasure of taking a solo trip to Nova Scotia to visit my best friend. It was JUST what I needed! Now it is May and time for me to share my layouts.

Both layouts were made with a template that comes with premium membership at the Simple Scrapper. I am linking up this post with my layout to the Simple Scrapper blog for the Community Show & Tell. Check out all the other layouts and add your own layout or creative project for everyone to see. For details on linking up, see the Simple Scrapper blog.

1. Easter Bunnies: Oooh, I had fun with this one. I finally succeeded in stitching on a layout with a sewing machine (the circles under “wonderful”). Huge accomplishment for me. Check that off my bucket list! I bought the photo booth Easter props at Target for $5. I’m loving that retro vintage bunny chipboard sticker.

ritchie_may14-s2lores

 

2. You & Me:  The goal was to create a layout telling the story of how I met my best friend. I ended up sharing more of a timeline on the times and places we’ve been together. I made the layout the week before I got to visit her in Nova Scotia! It had been 3 years since we’d last visited each other. Such a good time! I love putting lots of journaling on a page. I hope to add more journaling to my pages in the future.

ritchie_may14-story2lores

Again, I’d like to remind everyone that I’ve been asked to teach on a scrapbooking cruise (Pure Magic Croppers) for next winter. Do you want to join me, Feb 22-Mar 1 2015 on a week long cruise to Florida and the Bahamas?  I’ll be teaching a class on each of the three “at sea” days. If you would like more details, check out the Pure Magic Vacations page on facebook.

Huzzah! Two new layouts and a cruise!

March has flown by. Well, more like roared… lion-like. ROAR! Snow. Snow. Snow. Freezing. Snow.

In more joyous news, birthday parties were had. Relatives visited. Moods lifted. Clutter decluttered. Stuff happened.

I also found time to scrapbook. Or as I like to say, “Craft happened”.

Before I get to showing my two layouts, I wanted to also share something interesting that popped up on my calendar. I’ve been asked to teach on a scrapbooking cruise (Pure Magic Croppers) for next winter. Do you want to join me, Feb 22-Mar 1 2015 on a week long cruise to Florida and the Bahamas?  I’ll be teaching a class on each of the three “at sea” days. If you would like more details, check out the Pure Magic Vacations page on facebook.

Now about those layouts. Both layouts were made with a template that comes with premium membership at the Simple Scrapper. I am linking up this post with my layout to the Simple Scrapper blog for the Community Show & Tell. Check out all the other layouts and add your own layout or creative project for everyone to see. For details on linking up, see the Simple Scrapper blog.

1. My plan was to make a layout showing something currently in my home that honours my past. I have a great attachment to my maternal Grandma and I keep several items I inherited in my kitchen.  My life has changed so much in the past decade and I live hours away from my hometown. Surrounding myself with these mementos connects me to the people and places that are no longer in my life.

ritchie_apr14-s3-lores

2.  I am slowly documenting my Disney vacation from last November. The entire trip is in a D-ring album with pocket pages. The highlights of the trip will become 12×12 pages. This layout is a small moment that might not seem worthy of a whole layout. Yet, to me, it is exactly why I wanted to take my kids to Disney World. The place specializes in magic. As a kid, I remember that sense of wonder and amazement at water fountains and colourful lights. I think I was as excited as my daughter to see these stones twinkle as we were leaving Epcot at twilight.

ritchie_apr14-story10-lores

Happy Spring! May it bring lots of flowers and happy moments!

Flashback Sunday: Banana Popsicles and Bob Ross

Tonight, while lying in my son’s bed coaxing him to sleep, I was reminded of a moment that happened exactly six years earlier. I was lying in a hospital bed trying to coax my daughter out of my tummy and into the world. I’d been in labour most of the afternoon and evening. I was hopeful the labour would soon be over but had little idea it was about to get way more intense and stay that way until nearly noon the next day.

I remember the wonderful banana popsicles supplied by the hospital. A long forgotten favourite flavour from my childhood. I was only allowed the popsicles and ice water. My husband had brought his laptop so we could watch some shows he thought I’d enjoy. I had joked about how Bob Ross’s voice lulled me into relaxation. He had gone to great trouble to get Bob’s PBS art lessons onto a dvd for me to watch. Although, I’m not sure we ever did get around to watching them. He’d also brought a season of Golden Girls which we opted to watch. Funny enough, it was an episode about Blanche thinking she was pregnant. Those are the things I remember about that night. Ok, I remember other things but they weren’t quite as much fun.

Two years later, I was waiting for my sweet little boy to arrive. He finally arrived on the Ides of March.

Now, on the eve of my daughter’s sixth birthday, I am very much aware of how precious and fleeting this time is and how every moment needs to be embraced.

Here are a couple layouts, made years ago, I’d like to share with you this evening.

1. Six Years ago
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2. Four Years ago

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Now, I will resume marveling at the two beautiful babies I’ve brought into the world.

The Loss of Normal

“Grief is the loss of normal.” ― Brené Brown

When I heard these words in an online class by Brené Brown, I immediately thought of a moment in my life many years ago. Well, more than a thought really. It was like someone slapped me back into the body of the 17 year old girl sitting in a hospital room watching her beloved Grandfather die. I can still not think of that moment without my eyes welling up and a choking feeling in my chest.

Until that point of my life, I hadn’t experienced the loss of a close relative. I had lost pets and that was painful. I hadn’t lost a person. Someone who was very hard to live without. I loved my Grandpa very much. We lived a five minute drive from my grandparents’ home. I spent a lot of time there and he was a fixture in my life.

When he became ill I could hardly believe it. When the illness was pronounced terminal I was in a state of panic and probably denial. When he died I was broken.

It was the January 2nd, the day I spent by his bedside along with family: grown children, teenage grandchildren, and wife. His siblings and other family and close friends wandered in and out of the room all day paying their last respects. I remember having a hard time making eye contact with anyone else. I think I wasn’t alone in that. If we looked at each other, we might have to admit what was happening was real and permanent. I used all my will to not cry. Only possible by avoiding connection. The room felt like it was buzzing with electricity. To me, that was perfectly how “the loss of normal” feels. All I could do to hold on to what little reality I had left, was listen to the rattling breath of my Grandpa. He was struggling. I think I left around midnight. He died early morning.

When I received the journal prompts (story starters) and theme for the month at Simple Scrapper, I knew I wanted to tell this story. I don’t have a lot of photos of my Grandpa in those last years. I found one that had belonged to my Grandma, which was taken at his retirement party several months before he died. It wasn’t the greatest photo but it captures the Grandpa I knew and loved. I scanned it and edited it with Rad Lab to make it less stark on my layout. I also wanted it a bit dreamlike.

Here is the scanned photo:

grandpa

Here is the layout with the edited photo:

ritchie_mar14-story10_Lores

It was an emotional layout and I think I had a bit of trouble focusing. I made some errors trying to place the title, simply because grief lingers. Mistakes aside, I will cherish this layout.

My layout was made with a template and inspired by a journal prompt that comes with premium membership at the Simple Scrapper. I am linking up this post with my layout to the Simple Scrapper blog for the Community Show & Tell. Check out all the other layouts and add your own layout or creative project for everyone to see. For details on linking up, see the Simple Scrapper blog.

Never to early for a Cuckoo Christmas

As I mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp which started the beginning of February. We were given the theme of Cuckoo clocks and an assignment to design a phone case. I spent the first week sketching and painting. The second and third week I used Illustrator and Photoshop to turn my sketch into a completed design.

I have to tell you. That first week was an intimidating and humbling process. I tried to remind myself that I needed to focus on just having fun with my art. I think it was when I finally allowed myself to relax that I drew something I liked enough to use for the assignment.

Here is what my design looked like before I added colour. I wanted to see how the design would look on a phone.

melanieritchiemockup

Here is my submission to the gallery:

febMATSbootmockup-lores

I decided to open up a Society6 shop to sell my artwork. Might as well, right? So far I just have the one piece but I hope to fill it with joy soon.

I cannot wait for our March assignment!

… And the winner is…

Good evening everyone,
I’ll make this brief because I have a migraine (third aura in three days) and it hurts to look at the computer. Just wanted to pop in and pick a winner for a seat in Jennifer Wilson’s Before Your Story at Big Picture Classes. Thank you everyone for your comments. I enjoyed reading the stories you’d like to scrapbook.
So without further ado, the winner is:
nocreativitynone February 8, 2014 at 12:42 ·→

Love this layout and how you used all your strips. I’ve been wanting to document how my cousins and I used to spend summers together at my grandmas.

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Cuckoo for Cuckoo Clocks!

It’s Saturday afternoon. The time of afternoon where I want to close my eyes and curl up like a cat on a warm blanket. My daughter is tap dancing on a piece of fibre board. My son is building his marble maze. My husband is on the phone with his Mom. There’s a horse drawn hay wagon, four white minivans, and a school bus across the street for some reason I don’t quite understand. I’m about to work on a scrapbook layout for a guest blog post coming out next week somewhere very special.

This past week I doodled, sketched, and panicked over cuckoo clocks. I signed up for Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp. A friend was going to take it and I couldn’t resist joining her. What a talented group of artists! Holy Moly! I am ever so humbled and scared out of my mind. I am ever so brave, because as much as the negative thoughts (you’re not good enough, you don’t know how to do that yet, why are you even bothering) swirl in my mind, I’m taking the class anyway.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” ― Bob Ross

I decided to paint one of my sketches with watercolour. I can’t remember the last time I did a watercolour painting. I didn’t finish it yet because I’m tired and have other things to do, but it was fun practicing.

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As well as doodling all week, my kids and I suffered annoyingly pesky head colds. To make things happier, we ate a few sweet treats and I captured a couple lunch time photos. (Edited with RadLab)

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Now don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Jennifer Wilson’s  Before Your Story at Big Picture Classes. Leave a comment on this post for your chance to win.

February Simple Scrapper Community Show & Tell…

Happy Monday! I’m here to show you a couple layouts I made last month.

Both layouts were made with a template that comes with premium membership at the Simple Scrapper. I am linking up this post with my layout to the Simple Scrapper blog for the Community Show & Tell. Check out all the other layouts and add your own layout or creative project for everyone to see. For details on linking up, see the Simple Scrapper blog.

Also, DO NOT forget to check out this post where you can still leave a comment to win a spot in Jennifer Wilson’s Before Your Story at Big Picture Classes.

1. This layout also used a story starter prompt involving the things I’m really into right now. I decided to do it digitally. I even threw in a screen capture of an online purchase.

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2. This layout is actually a 6×6 as I wanted to fit it in a 12×12 pocket page that has four 6×6 pockets. I was prompted by an art journaling project where I take a photo from my childhood where I feel the most “me”.

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I have lots going on in February so I’d better get a good night’s sleep so I can blog all about everything in the coming weeks. Have a lovely week! Night night!

Join in the fun at the 34 Things Blog Party! Also, a Giveaway!

Yesterday I was inspired by the Simple Scrapper’s blog post “34 Things I Want You to Know About Me“. Jennifer Wilson is sharing a portion of her list every Wednesday for the next month. She’s invited others to participate as well. So I rang the doorbell and she let me into the party.

I created my own list and added a few extra facts for good measure. I spread out my list across a 12×12 layout.

For over a year now I’ve been collecting the bottom strips of my scrapbook paper. You know, the ones that give the company and collection name? Sometimes they’re super cute and I can’t bring myself to throw them out. I challenged myself to use them in a layout.

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I glued the strips down on a piece of plain white 12×12 paper. To cover up company/product information, I either covered  portions of the strips with the tags and stickers, or cut two strips into pieces and placed together in a line. Sometimes I purposely exposed the paper/collection names written on the strips, to enhance the layout (ex. Togetherness, Made with Love, Look over here).

Additionally, I used some wooden arrows, alphabet stickers, and a few embellishments. Some of my list is written right onto the paper strips. For the rest, I used a number of journal tags and stickers.  I used foam pop up dots behind the labels to give a bit of dimension to the layout. It’s hard to make a layout like this cohesive as there is just so much to visually take in. The arrows were necessary to help guide the eye around the page.

I have a plan to elaborate on the details of each item, in separate layouts. This layout will end up being a table of contents for that album.

Here is my layout and below it is my list:

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My list of “39 facts about me” (because 34 Things just wasn’t enough):

  1. My favourite age was 4.
  2. I wanted to BE Annie.
  3. I met Mr. Dressup, my hero.
  4. I moved to Japan twice.
  5. I was a camp counsellor.
  6. I played piano, sorta.
  7. I wish I were bilingual.
  8. I love “Barbapapa”.
  9. I love to sleep with the windows open. Makes my soul happy!
  10. I cried when I heard of River Phoenix’s death.
  11. I peed my pants at school, not once but twice.
  12. I faint easily, especially if I get needles.
  13. I went to my first Lollapalooza in 1992. I was 17.
  14. I was devastated when my Grandpa died.
  15. As a kid, I could not stand the colour brown. Too much of it in the ’70s?
  16. I checked the mailbox everyday for a new issue of “Sassy” Magazine.
  17. I wanted to dance like in the opening of “Fame”.
  18. For many years, I loved to write poetry and dabble in fiction.
  19. I grew up in St.Thomas, close to all of my family. I miss my childhood home.
  20. When I’m nervous I get giddy. I laugh and talk too much.
  21. I loved collecting stickers, shoelace pins, beads, and jelly bracelets in the 1980s.
  22. I hated being single and wondered if I’d ever meet my “Mr.Right”.
  23. On our 3rd date, Robin took me on a day trip to St. Jacob’s and Elora.
  24. I had trouble learning to tell time when I was a kid. I really struggled with math at times.
  25. Robin proposed to me in Florida.
  26. I am scared of driving or going on the highway. I am always fearful of disaster striking. It is hard to cope.
  27. I am shy.
  28. I always wanted to be a Mom.
  29. I ♥ 60s music.
  30. I’ve always loved to draw.
  31. Seasonal Affective Disorder has been a problem for me.
  32. I like to make lists.
  33. I like hotels with swimming pools.
  34. I body guarded Wesley Snipes at the Toronto Film Festival.
  35. I strongly dislike waiting for buses.
  36. Since I was maybe 7, I’ve often thought I’m ugly and stupid.
  37. I was a movie extra when I was 23.
  38. My first trip to Europe was on our honeymoon, which was spent in France.
  39. My dream jobs have included: Book Cover Artist, Famous Actress, Vintage Shop Owner.

Oh, and how about a giveaway?

How would you like a spot in Before Your Story at Big Picture Classes? The class is A Simple Approach to Autobiographical Scrapbooking, from Birth to Adulthood. The class has a value of $45 and starts February 27th. ENTER TO WIN by leaving a COMMENT below telling me a story you’d like to document from your own childhood. I’ll pick a winner on February 14th.

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About the Class

There are milestone events in life, such as marriage and motherhood, that divide us permanently into a “before” and an “after.” It’s easy to become so immersed in the after—the glorious here and now—that our “befores” rarely appear in our scrapbooks.

In this 6-week workshop with Jennifer Wilson of simplescrapper.com, you’ll have all the guidance you need to tell your growing-up story in one gorgeous 12″ x 12″ pocket album. Her class combines the ease of slipping photos and journaling cards into photo sleeves with the brilliance of Stacy Julian’s “Library of Memories” scrapbooking categories.

Jennifer excels at making big goals reachable and overwhelming projects finish-able, with her step-by-step processes and detailed planning worksheets. You’ll complete a simple, streamlined album that will help your spouse or partner catch up on the years leading up to the moment you met. Or, it’s the perfect answer to that age-old question, “Mom, what were you like when you were my age?”

 

This is going to take awhile.

In November, my family went to Disney World. It was the first visit for my kids. My husband and I hadn’t been there since he proposed eight years ago. One of my goals for 2014 is to complete the album of our vacation. I’m using pocket pages in a 12×12 D-ring album. Between pocket pages filled with 4×6 photos and journal cards, will be full page 12×12 layouts.

For the two layouts I’m sharing today, I used templates and a story starter journal prompt from the premium Simple Scrapper membership.

1. For this layout, I was inspired by a journal prompt listing all my favourite things. I put my own twist on it and instead wrote about the favourite ride of each family member. I had intended to use a list and number the photos with the items on the list. In the end, I wrote a paragraph with a more in-depth description about the rides and didn’t number the photos.

I used traditional paper supplies.

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2. For this layout, I used all digital supplies. I had this cute journal card I wanted to use but the sentiment on it wasn’t working for me. So I used the clone tool to “erase” the words and then added the word “destination” in a font and colour of my choosing.

For the title “holiday”, I used the arsenale white font. I added a drop shadow and then warped it so it would look like a cut file. I put a stitch through the middle. I think it looks like paper!

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Digital Supplies used:
All Mapped Out | Elements by Dawn by Design
Walt’s Park: Holiday Kit by Scotty Girl Design
Penny kit by creashens
Wonderland | Journal Cards by Sabrina’s Creations

To see more blog posts sharing in the Simple Scrapper community show-and-tell, click here!

The Premium Membership at Simple Scrapper provides skills and shortcuts to help you simplify and find more meaning in your memory keeping.

 

Releasing the prisoner and other intentions

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” – Alfred Tennyson

As 2013 comes to a close, I am trying to remember what events transpired. What did I do, where did I go, what did I learn? It’s all bit of a blur.

I spend too much time in my head. Next year I want to spend less time thinking about me and more time doing things for others. It is way too easy to get caught up in rumination and fear. Too much of life passes by, completely unspent. Wasteful.

Life is too short. That’s what I learned. In 2014, I want to GET OVER stuff. I want to stop whining, stop annoying myself, and just try to enjoy a minute without analyzing, obsessing, and ruminating over how I’m not living the moment up to its potential. I blinked recently and when I opened my eyes I saw how much my life has changed in the past few years. Time is not going to pause for me. I need to enjoy my life now. Screw the resentments, boredoms, annoyances and heartaches that plague everyone. I have no time for that. Gotta just look at the stuff I like and stop to smile and take it all in… because, whether I like it or not, the times they are a-changin’.

I am not perfect. I’ve always known this but for some reason I seem to beat myself up for my failings. You know what? I don’t like getting up in the morning. I don’t like walking to the bus stop. I don’t like wearing bras. I don’t like cleaning toilets. I don’t like sweeping, mopping, washing dishes, and vacuuming. Oh, and I don’t like socializing very much either. There I said it. I do these things but in 2014 I’m not going to apologize for disliking them. Oh yeah, and I have a big butt and thick legs. That’s how it goes.

I decided today to participate in Ali Edward’s One Little Word. Could not stop myself from signing up. Chose my word. RELEASE. Told my husband. Fits of laughter ensued. Apparently he thinks my word pertains to Prison, Sex, and/or Prison sex. Um, no, not my intentions for the word. Actually, hadn’t even occurred to me. Thanks for the input though.

I found by the end of 2013 I was feeling empty and listless. Kind of “what’s the point?” malaise. Ok, yeah, another word for it might be depression. Wouldn’t be the first time. The advent of Christmas was more stressful than I would have liked. I just felt sad. I didn’t even do all the seasonal stuff I normally try to do. For the past five years I’ve put a lot of effort into making the season “magical” for my kids. This year I simply let them play and make their own magic. Craft projects and Christmas cards could wait until next year. I just couldn’t be bothered and I didn’t think the world would stop spinning. Christmas still happened. Luckily, by the time we set off on our Christmas trip to my parents, the fog of my mood had lifted. I felt a wee bit festive. While my mood sucked, I did like the freedom of not having to live up to all these unnecessary expectations I have for myself. Enough is enough.

So, for 2014 I want to focus on the word “release”.

Release of worry and fear. I am in the grips of fear a lot. I don’t know that this is doable but I’ll keep working on/managing it.

Release of shame, regrets and resentments. Ok yeah, I’ve failed things. I’ve made mistakes. Words haunt me. Stupid events haunt me. LET IT GO. Who cares. We live. We die. This will not be how I am remembered. People who judge me need a new hobby.

Release of the past. Now this one is tricky. I have so many good associations with the past and they keep me just as busy ruminating as any bad experiences. I get all caught up in the “good ole days”. My remembrances of being a child are well… childish. Some crazy part of me seems to think I need to be the perfect mother and give my kids the perfect childhood just like little girl Melanie imagined. Or I need to recreate the wonderful childhood memories that stick out in my mind. I need to relax and realize I am giving my kids their own great memories. They’re lucky and loved just like I am.

Release expectations. Mine. Humanity. Good people. Bad people. My kids. Customer Service. Whatever. Whoever. The cat. Yes, I’d like everyone to be perfect. I’d like the world to be perfect. I’d like to be perfect. See next item.

Release perfection. See above.

Release of pressure. A big ole sigh of relief. Breathing deeply again. A weight off my shoulders. I need to leeeettt gooooooo.

Release my sadness. Crying is cathartic and yet I don’t really cry much because I don’t like to and it hurts my eyes. I think I might try it again anyway. Hey, what are you looking at? Allergies, man, allergies.

Release my children. That sounds weird. I am really struggling with this one. My youngest will be heading off to school in the fall. Kindergarten is now a full day program. In my mind, I still had two more years of half days with him. I feel like that gift of time has just been ripped away from me. Yet, I think he is ready for school and will enjoy it. I will miss this period of my life. Sure, it was exhausting. There were countless times I just wanted some time ALONE! I couldn’t imagine “free time”. I’ve always viewed a child’s formative first five years as sacred. A little cocoon of bonding for us. I didn’t expect it to come and go so quickly. Suddenly, the house will be empty again for hours at a time. I don’t feel ready for it. It scares me. I have to focus on the new things I will be able to do. Not all is lost even though I feel lost.

Release my creativity. Release artwork. What I will do when my house is too quiet and empty during school hours. I will have the time to pursue my art again.

Release the need to please others. Release the habit of caring what other people think. WHY oh WHY do I care so much over what people think of me? Especially people I don’t even like. What is WITH that? As for people I do like, it would benefit me to have the inner strength to have grace when being judged.

Release anger. Although I am a pacifist and abhor violence, I have to admit I carry a lot of anger inside of me. Perhaps this is my number one concern only because my anger is a result of all the other things I need to release. I am angry because I am frustrated, hurt and fearful. The only way to release the anger is to let go of shame, resentment, expectations, disappointments, and fear. I have to stop caring about the opinions of others. My journey is my own. It doesn’t have to be understood, accepted, or permitted by others. It is mine and mine alone.

This is it. 2014. I’m going to live it as best I know how. Imperfectly perfect. Perfectly imperfect. With humour. And a whole lot of love under that furrowed brow of mine.

Oh, and I didn’t edit this post. I’m living life on the edge, peeps.

Happy New Year!

Here’s a picture because I heard all blog posts need a picture.

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R.I.P. Nelson Mandela.

Last night my husband told me Nelson Mandela had died. I was saddened to hear the news. Although he was 95, many of those years weren’t his to live freely. I woke up to read the Facebook status of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He said he had lost a dear friend. Those two seem like they would be deserving best friends. The Dalai Lama described Nelson Mandela as “a man of courage, principle and unquestionable integrity, a great human being, someone of whom we can truly say, “He lived a meaningful life.

I’ll never be Nelson Mandela. I’ll never be the Dalai Lama. I highly doubt my life will make profound change in the world. Yet, I like to think I’ll have moments that help to change the current from misery to bliss. My own little splashes of Goodness in the River of Life.

Next in my Facebook, I saw someone in a scrapbooking group was collecting quotes to put on journal cards for her Project Life album. I thought “hey, I can help with that” and so I did!

Here are 6 journal cards (3×4) for my readers to download. They are free! If you feel like paying something, go “pay it forward” and make someone’s day special somewhere out there in the world. Even just a smile to a stranger would be good payment, don’t you think?

I made the cards 3.25×4.25 (extra room at the sides) so that they can be printed correctly at Persnickety Prints or wherever you print your journal cards. This way, the edges won’t get cut off when you print.

Enjoy! Go out there and live a meaningful moment in honour of Nelson Mandela.

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December Simple Scrapper Community Show & Tell…

Oooh, I have so much to scrapbook! I went to Disney World last month and since I returned I’ve been racing to catch up on emails, projects, scrapbook layouts, and getting ready for the holidays.

Here is one of my layouts made with a template that comes with premium membership at the Simple Scrapper. I am linking up this post with my layout to the Simple Scrapper blog for the Community Show & Tell. Check out all the other layouts and add your own layout or creative project for everyone to see. For details on linking up, see the Simple Scrapper blog.

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Sketch template from Simple Scrapper’s Premium Membership

Oh yes I did!

I put my design hiatus on hiatus so that I could have the privilege of collaborating with Nancie Rowe Janitz on a Christmas themed digital kit. So without further ado, here is our mega huge “Silent Night” on sale today in Nancie’s shop at JessicaSprague.com. It is available separated into patterned papers, solids and elements OR you can buy the complete collection.

Why Silent Night? My three reasons: It is my favourite Christmas carol; For nearly four years I’ve sung it to my son as a lullaby… works like magic; when I was a kid I loved staring up into night sky during cold, snowy December nights when the stars would shimmer like diamonds. Few things have ever made me feel more complete. To me, Silent Night holds the meaning of Christmas… in the midst of chaos and turmoil, beautiful things can be born in the stillness of the moment. My wish is for everyone to feel peace in their lives this holiday season.

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To make things extra special, here is a free quickpage (12×12). I thought it would make a great cover page for a Christmas album. Hop on over to Nancie’s blog as she’ll be giving away some word art.

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Click on image or HERE to download.

Hope you like it!

My Scrapbooking therapy and a Giveaway!!!

I was a guest blogger this week at Simple Scrapper. I shared my thoughts on scrapbooking difficult topics and how I use my favourite hobby to make peace with my problems. More or less.

Not all my scrapbook layouts are about the cheerful bliss in my life. Here is a layout I did a couple years ago about a challenging day. Click here to read my post at Simple Scrapper.

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Now about that giveaway. I am giving away a spot in the 12 Days of Christmas: December Duos class at Big Picture Classes. The class runs from December 12-25th. The class is described as:

The “December Duos” concept is easy, stress-free, and inspiring. Every day for the twelve days leading up to Christmas Day, two of our twelve instructors will share a scrapbook layout, video message, and a page prompt in the form of a duo (“warm & cold,” “give & receive,” “near & far”). That’s a total of two-dozen inspiring ideas!

You can follow the instructor’s lead or march in your own direction as you snap your photos for the day. Then, after printing our fabulously free journaling cards and title cards, you’ll either slip the cards and your photos into a Project Life mini album from American Crafts or use them on a traditional (or digital) scrapbook page.

12 Days of Christmas: December Duos makes it easy to capture all of your most important holiday moments—in a festive new format—while keeping up with all the parties, presents, and pageants that make the holiday season magical.

Learn more and register here

Please leave a comment below sharing your favourite holiday tradition and you’ll be entered to win a spot in the class. I’ll close the comments on November 30th at 9pm EST.

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I’m dreaming of Disney

I thought I was a fan of Disney World. Once I was past the age of 10, I was never really into Disney movies or culture. I just liked the theme parks. When I was three I went to Magic Kingdom for the first time. At age 11, I went to Epcot and Magic Kingdom. At 15, I went to MGM. I was always very nostalgic about those trips.

My husband took me to Disney World to propose. Unfortunately, I developed a nasty case of pneumonia. Fortunately, he still proposed. Oh, and I survived the pneumonia… let’s not forget that!

It was our dream to take our kids to Disney World. So, this November we did exactly that. It was mostly wonderful and magical. Somehow when you’re planning a trip like this, you aren’t imagining the whining that will accompany it. I did plan for down time and expect that everyone would have their less than perfect moments but still it can be stressful when people get overwhelmed, overheated, and plain tuckered out.

What I discovered is that it is the first day and last day that matter most. A first day is all about first impressions and feeling the magic of the place. The last day is your last impression and what you will remember simply because it happened last. You want to leave on a good note. We had a wonderful entrance to the Magic Kingdom (which I will talk about in a future layout which I will share later) and our last day was our most relaxing day of all.

I was surprised to discover I am not as big a fan of Disney Parks as I had thought. Even with low attendance in the parks, I found it too busy, too loud, and some of the park staff (cast members) had unnecessary attitude. I did not expect the latter. No big deal on the first half of the trip but by the end I was tired and overwhelmed which made me oversensitive to everything around me. Just like my kids! I got my fill of the place and don’t need to go back for several years.

We have been back half a week and every night I have been dreaming of Disney. Just some little aspect of our trip, looping over and over all night long. I must be processing the trip. Last night, it was standing in a line on a ride. No wonder I woke up with a headache!

I have 3600 photos I need to sift through, edit, and print for my scrapbook. This could take awhile!

In the meantime, last night I made a layout!

I used Karla Dudley product. She is having a 25% off sale until November 30th. If you spend $10 in her shop, you’ll receive a free Holly add-on kit. It includes the template I used in my layout!

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credits:

Holly | add-on pack by Karla Dudley
Chris the kit by Karla Dudley
Holly the kity by Karla Dudley
Toolbox Mists v.2 by Gennifer Bursett
Toolbox Mists v.1 by Gennifer Bursett