Monday, September 29, 2014

The U2 list

Well, now that U2's new album Songs of Innocence has been out for a bit and I have listened to it several times, and I am finally ready to share my thoughts.
Anyone who knows me and reads my blog, probably knows that I have been a huge U2 fan for a very long time (1987 cough, cough).
I went to my first U2 concert (Joshua Tree tour) in 1988. I've seen them play in several cities here in the states and Dublin, Ireland.
(Croke Park - Dublin Ireland)
When the new album showed up for free on itunes a lot of friends and family were calling, texting and emailing me to let me know. I knew, but I appreciated that people know how much I love this band and they didn't want me to miss out.
I thought it was interesting that several people also told me "well, of course you love their new album. You love U2."
Well, not necessarily. Yes, I love U2, but I am not blind to their faults. And I don't just love all their music because they are my favorite band in the world. In fact, there is at least one song on each album I skip on a regular basis.
That said, I do love the new album although it took me several listens to get on board.
Like I said in this post Here, I was a little underwhelmed at first. But my standards and expectations for U2 are a little high. Higher than most. Although, I am finding that this may be true of all bands I currently love and eagerly await new music. Alt-J's new album took a couple of listens for me to fall in love as well.

As for U2, the concept behind the new album is brilliant in my opinion. The songs basically cover their youth and how they came to be. And what better way for an album to open then with a tribute to the Ramones (another favorite band of mine) who really inspired U2 to become what they are today.
Here is a list on some of my thoughts about the release and U2 in general right now:

1. The Miracle (of Joey Ramone) - I really do like this song. I think it's a great opener as far as a timeline for the album. Does it have the punch of other opening songs like No Line on the Horizon, Beautiful Day, Vertigo or Zoo Station. No not really. But it's good enough.

2. My two favorite songs on the album are absolutely "Every Breaking Wave" and "This is Where You Can Reach Me Now". The latter being Erin's favorite song. My daughter who has always been very vocal about her "non-love" of all things U2 now has a favorite U2 song. And when it comes on, she runs from wherever she is and starts dancing! Well, played U2. You finally won her over. ;)

3. There is some amazing guitar work done on this album by The Edge. Some of my favorite ever.

4. Iris (Hold Me Close) has the ability to make me tear up. It's a song written about Bono's mom who died when he was only 14. At the end he sings about some of the few memories he has of her. Memories that make me think of my relationship with my son. Yeah, it's a good one.

5. A lot of people were aggravated that the album appeared on their itunes account for free. I can understand it. I do. But seriously, it was free. And just delete it.

6. Not everyone likes U2. In fact, I have met quite a few people who are vehement about their hate for U2 and like to share that with me. That's ok as well. It doesn't change the fact that this band has meant a lot to me. I've connected with people over our mutual love of U2. Mike and I danced to a U2 song at our wedding. I had the courage to get on a plane, fly over the ocean, leaving my kids for a week (all not easy) to see them live in concert in Ireland. That was a huge, wonderful experience for me, and I am glad Mike and I went despite the obstacles. It's a memory we will never, ever forget.

7. Bono and I don't always see eye to eye on his lyrics. In fact, there are a few songs where I have thought, wth is he talking about. Songs on the new album where this occurs... "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight" and "Raised by Wolves". But there are parts of the songs I really like despite the less than stellar lyrics. Another song that I felt this way about was "Get On Your Boots" from No Line on the Horizon.

8. This is a band that is constantly changing. Each album is a complete surprise and that doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. I know there are fans that complain about how much they miss the "old" U2. And while I am the first to admit that change is not always something I am psyched about, I don't mind it in my music. This band has been around for over 35 years. Of course there is going to be change. Sorry, but Bono just would not be able to pull off his Achtung Baby days or even the War days on a live stage. People change and grow and mature. Priorities change. Stories they want to share change. It is true of musicians as it is true of any artist. Even scrapbookers. :)

9. And last but not least, the tour cannot come soon enough for me! I hope they come to St. Louis, but if not I know we will go see them anywhere they are close by. And maybe one other not so close location :)
Evan is just as excited as us about the tour, so he will definitely be joining us for at least one show.
Loved having him with us in St. Louis for that show back in 2011. I always tell him he is so absolutely spoiled when it comes to U2. I was 40 years old...
before I was able to be this close to the band for most of the show.
and this picture of The Edge where he was looking right at Evan and smiling at him is priceless to me!
Yep, Evan is a pretty lucky kid :)
And I feel pretty lucky and blessed to share my love of this band with my husband and son. To have been places I might never have visited to see them play. And to have been inspired by their lyrics to create scrapbook layouts.
As long as they keep the music coming (and yes, there is a rumored second release coming soon...Songs of Experience), I am happy!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Let It Go

Sometimes you just know the time is right to let something go and move on.
Today I have a post up here on the Paper Issues blog. It is my last post as a design team member today, so it's a little bittersweet
I have been on the design team since April 2013, so about a year and a half. And it has been so much fun getting to know all of the girls! I have also created quite a few pages as a result of my time with Paper Issues, some of which you can see in the above collage.

But lately I have felt less and less like having scrapbooking be anything but a hobby I enjoy. As much as I have loved being on design teams, it's not really something that fits my life right now. I have  been enjoying substitute teaching and it has helped me realize that maybe it's time to focus more on getting back into teaching again. Not full time of course with Mike traveling. I just don't want to add that element of stress to our lives right now. But getting a few sub days here and there and going back to school for my Master's degree are high on my list right now.

The same is true about exercise and healthy living. It's interesting to me that time I used to spend blogging, checking the scrapbook galleries and message boards and just scrapbooking is being filled with exercise and looking for healthy, clean eating recipes. I think I have just reached a point in my life where I have different needs and I am trying to find a balance between family, health, "career", and hobbies.

I will say this. Being on design teams definitely helped me grow and develop my style as a scrapbooker. And I learned so much more about computers and photography as well.
I had set several goals for scrapbooking that I wanted to accomplish.
I wanted to be on a design team for my local scrapbook store, an on-line store and a kit club which I did through For Keeps Sake, Scrapgal, Paper Issues and Scrapbooking From the Inside Out.
And the bonus was being on the Crafting Ireland on-line magazine team. I never even dreamed of being on a team for a magazine, but thought why not when I saw the call. I was on their first ever design team and it was so incredible that they asked me!
Another goal was to have my work published in a scrapbook magazine at least once...thank you Scrapbooks Etc. magazine for making that dream come true several times. :)

And then I started thinking it would be fun to be on a manufacturer team. But after being asked to work with product for one company only for a few assignments, I realized that I am not the type of person who can use 80% of one company's product on a page. It stressed me out a bit to be limited like that.  So I am letting that goal go because I know it is not a good fit for me.

Ultimately, I am letting design teams go.
After ten years of design team work, I am done for now.
Most likely for good.
And I am so grateful for the several opportunities I have had because I have truly met some awesome women along the way!
But it's time for something new.
I will still be scrapbooking and I will still post here to the blog.
It will probably be a mix of things, but I will definitely still share projects.
I am also grateful for the new Facebook group Paper Issues started, Paper Issues {Friends and Fans}
so I don't have to go cold turkey from chatting with my PI friends.

Letting go feels pretty good.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Healthy Me!

So a few weeks ago a friend of mine told me about a green smoothie cleanse she was doing and how she was feeling so much better since she had started it.
It's this book by J.J. Smith. She let me check out her copy of the book which is actually a quick read and I realized that the smoothies looked pretty normal. Nothing crazy or hard to find in them, so I decided it couldn't hurt to try.
I am really at a point in my life where I just want to feel healthy on a regular basis. I exercise but don't always eat well or get enough sleep and it's catching up with me.

So last Monday I started the modified version which is a green smoothie for breakfast, lunch and a healthy dinner with a few snacks throughout the day. For snacks you can have hard boiled eggs and crunchy fruits and veggies with a non sugar peanut butter. No dairy, carbs, red meat, sugary treats, alcohol or juices.
(this was my day six smoothie)
And the smoothies are pretty good! No lie. :) Today on day eight, my smoothie was spinach and spring greens, banana, mango, pineapple, and mixed berries. You can also throw ground flax seed in there or protein powder. Some days I do the flax seed and some days I forget (lol).
I won't say all the smoothies are great. On day 3, I remember telling Mike it tasted a little earthy. Wasn't my favorite.

But since I started eight days ago, my sinuses have been so much better. No sinus headaches at all. I am sleeping better at night and haven't had any processed sugar. No chocolate either! Shocker I know, but I am surviving just fine. I didn't think I could.

After the ten days, you are supposed to ease back into eating more whole foods. So still two smoothies and more choices for meals. I can see myself doing one or two smoothies a day for a while though. Maybe breakfast and dinner with a meal for lunch and small snacks. I thought I would feel super hungry and I did the first and second day. But really after day three, not so much.
And it feels good not to crave sugar. It doesn't mean I'll never have it again I'm sure, but I can walk past the hershey kiss bowl and feel no desire for one. And soda. Done!

I've been pinning a ton of clean eating recipes on my food board on Pinterest as well, because I would like to move away from eating any types of processed and unhealthy foods as much as possible. Hopefully this is the jumpstart I needed and another step to a healthier me!

And for blogging, I am hoping to start posting again a little more frequently, but honestly I will probably only still be reading blogs one or two days a week. Morning time after the kids went to school used to be my blog reading time, but now it's set aside for exercise or subbing. And I am usually too tired these days after the kids go to bed. But I will definitely make time at least once a week because I really miss it!
Happy Monday!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Paper Issues: Anything Goes!

The new issue at Paper Issues is up on the blog today and this time "Anything Goes!"
This is a pretty easy one cause you can link up pretty much anything. :)
The sponsor this time around is a company called Whisker Graphics and they specialize in really cool party bags, baker's twine, printables and tags.
Here is my layout using some of the party bags and tags, plus a few items from various Swag Bags from Paper Issues...
I wanted to use my tried and true grid like design with instagram photos of two of my scrapbook layouts and two bags with tags tucked inside. One tag contains my journaling and the other is just for balance purposes. The "Every Picture Records a Little Story" die cut was in one of the Swag Bags along with the rest of the embellishments on the page except for the camera die cut.
I had been wanting to use that die cut for a while and this page about why I scrapbook was just right!

Here is a closer look at the journaling. And I mean every word of it! I scrapbook mainly to tell stories. Of course, I will scrapbook the big events, but I also love to capture the everyday moments of our lives together. And not always the good, happy memories. There have been a few hardships that I have made a layout or two about.

So I hope you will join in and link up with us for this issue. You can find all the details on this blog post *Here.* The prize is a selection of Whisker Graphics product.

And don't forget if you use code MARYJO you can get 20% off your purchase in the Paper Issues Shop!
If you link up before Tuesday evening you may just find yourself featured on the Paper Issues blog on Wednesday when I have a blog post going up.
Thanks for stopping by today!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

Or should I say "Beautiful Day"!
U2 finally has a new album out! Finally.
We've been waiting a long time here in the Rhoda house. :)
And yes, we got it for free from iTunes. I love that so many friends and family called, emailed and texted to let me know! But we already had it.
I would like to give it a few weeks before giving my official review.
I need time to really listen to the songs, but I will say favorite one so far is Every Breaking Wave.

This on-line article from Rolling Stone actually made me see the album in a better light.
Songs of Innocence
At first I was a little underwhelmed by the songs, but then again I have such high expectations. After five years and all of that time working on it in studios how can I not!
But from what I read in the article, the album title, "Songs of Innocence," is perfect for what they are conveying. These songs are all a throwback to their youth and where they came from. It's pretty cool when you think of it.

As I listen to the new songs again and again, I find myself as usual loving three or four, really liking a few, and then just tolerating one or two. It's how I am with every album. Well, except Achtung, Baby. Probably one of their best ever! Yes, I know Joshua Tree is worshiped and idolized by many and I do love it, but Achtung did not have one single song I didn't love. That's an anomaly for me. (lol)

And as for Florida pics, they are on hold a bit. Mike put all of his photos from his camera on a flash drive for me, so I am waiting to get that from him so I can sort through them all at once. :)

I will be back Monday with a layout.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


today is the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on our country. It's something I know we will never forget.
This is my profile picture on Facebook right now. I took a high school trip to New York City in December of 1988, and we had such a great time. One of the highlights was taking a ferry ride over from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty. My friend Linda took this photo of me on that ride. When I was going through my older photos a few years ago, I found it. This photo took on a whole new meaning for me. Events and time can really do that to a photo.

It was a happy time in my life. The events of that day, September 11th, 2001, can't take away those happy memories. But it does help me realize that life is precious and sometimes way too short. And it shouldn't be taken for granted.

I know I try not to ever take it for granted.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Scrappy Blog Tour

So I was tagged on her Scrappy Blog Tour post by my friend Danielle who is on the Paper Issues design team with me. I have actually been asked two other times by blog friends if I would like to participate, but had to say no both times unfortunately because I had a design team post on one of the dates and we were out of town the other date.
This time the timing is just right so here we go!

What am I working on right now?
Lol, well there is a design team assignment layout there in the center that I am going to finish today after I clean up a bit. As you can see, I have a bit of a mess on my hands at the moment. But as soon as I get it moved, I should be fine.

How long does it take me to complete a project?
It just really depends on the project. Anywhere from 30 minutes to a week depending on how much time I can get. And truthfully, this summer I didn't have very much time to scrapbook. The last layout I completed was a few weeks ago! Although I did recently make two cards for the kids homeroom teachers for the beginning of the school year. I did those in ten minutes. :)

What are my favorite things to create with at the moment?
Most of my pages recently use enamel dots, wood veneer, patterned paper, die cut packs, alphabet stickers and fonts.

How does my creating process work?
For layouts, I usually start with photos unless it's a design team project where I am given a theme or product. But when it's just for me, I start with the photos. From there I pick product out that I think will work well with the colors and story behind the pictures. I can't say it comes together easily at that point though. I will often move things around on my pages a lot before I settle on placement and stick it all down unless I am using a sketch. And I always leave my journaling for last.

How do I become inspired and stay inspired?
I have a few scrapbook blogs that I love to read. I often find ideas there. I pin a lot of scrapbook inspiration on Pinterest, and that is my go to place now though. I have boards for scrapbook inspiration (layouts and ideas), sketches, techniques, project life and cards. In the next few months I plan to go there often and knock out a ton of pages.
Also, I am working on a Summer only Project Life album and some travel albums. I really want to finish those. So I am feeling inspired to get it all done! 

What is my signature style?
This is always a hard question for me. I think I like to change these up a bit from time to time. But generally I come back to a more simple, linear, grid like style. I love my grids. :)
Here are a few of my favorite pages:

And now from what I hear, pretty much everyone has done or been invited to do this blog hop. So I am going to say to any of my blog friends who have not, I invite YOU to join in on the scrappy blog tour next Monday, Sept. 15. I nominate all of you who read my blog and have not participated!

Thanks for stopping by today, and I will hopefully be back soon with Florida pictures!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Paper Issues: "Tell Me Dies" with Jillibean Soup

A new issue went up on the Paper Issues blog today which you can see *Here*.
This time around, Jillibean Soup is our sponsor and we are looking for scrappers to link up old or new projects using some of the following ideas:
  • Show us your mad fussy cutting skills.
  • Use scissors or sewing notions as embellishments, maybe even sewing-themed paper.
  • Use die cuts of all kinds — pre-made, from a manual die cut machine and/or an electronic machine. Be sure to check out the wonderful Jillibean Soup cut files in the Silhouette store.
  • Put the focus on your journaling.
  • Share a family story that's been passed down from generation-to-generation.
  • Are bedtime stories part of the nighttime routine in your house (as in "tell me a story")? Is there a favorite, one you read over and over and over?
  • Show us memorial pages about loved ones who are no longer with us.
  • Create a layout that's all about you (as in "all about me")
  • Use Jillibean Soup products.

Here are a few of the projects I plan on linking up!
This page has the camera die cut and die cut "love this" tag. Plus the "many thanks" label sticker is by Jillibean Soup!

This is a recent favorite page that has a few die cuts on it from Crate Paper. The gold label with the 2012 date and the one that reads "This Memory Belongs To:"
The speech bubbles on this page are die cuts.
If you would like to link up your projects that fit the theme, you have until Sept. 14th and you can just go to this blog post *Here*!
Jillibean Soup is giving away a goodie bag of product to one lucky winner.

I finally uploaded all of the photos from our vacation from my phone to our computer. So I am going to be sorting and editing some of those, but I am still getting back into school routine and taking care of a lot of little things such as oil changes and doctor appointments that are easier to do while the kids are in school and were put on hold during the summer.
So I am getting there, just slowly. :)