Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

So many scarves, so little time

Sorry I'm running late, I was trying to choose which of the 12 Halloween scarves I should sport today. ...Or, maybe I should change my scarf/neckerchief on the hour.

Truth of the matter... there's no sense in trying to post a blog about creativity on a day like today. Today personifies creativity. Today, everywhere you turn creativity will be rearing its head. Creative costumes, creative decorations, creative baked treats, creative Halloween festival games, creative Jack-o-Lanterns, creative, creative, creative. I can't compete.

Instead, I'll move over and, in the spirit of Free For All Friday, let you report on the creativity you're encountering.

Thanks to Cristine, I have the first example of the day. Check out her the costume of her son's preschool teacher. She's a Hoover vacuum! Best of all... she achieved it with nothing more than a HOT GLUE GUN. There's hope for me yet!
One more thing... Get out and Vote! Check out the slide show below and vote for your favorite carved pumpkin. The winner receives a fun Halloween accessory, sure to make your next Halloween sweet!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Psst... It's Me...

Count Raycula

Blah, blah, blah... I've come to see your blahg.

Before I forget, I'm supposed to tell everyone (as if you didn't know) that it's Free-for-all Friday.  What a "pain in the neck!"  All this finding the hidden HLAs in my picture, and talking about random stuff.  It's driving me batty.  Is it too early for a Bloody Mary? 

I kill me.

But seriously, cool is that?  This is the day that millions of people start out giving each child that comes to their door a couple of pieces of candy from their 20 pound stash and by the end of the evening are doling it out by the double handful to every kid parent and dog that walks by.  There are of course a few thrifty souls who secretly fear having to lock the doors, turn off the lights and hide in the closet till the last roving band of barely costumed, bowl dumping, pumpkin smashing, hormonal teens flee the scene of the crime.  Which are you?

Being a vampire, I only get to see the after dark activities.  I've heard rumors that these "helicopter parents" - (look it up) are out their with the kiddies way before the sun goes down.  Frightening.  Do me a favor and let me know when you get your first little goblin at the door.  If they look tasty enough I may have to buy some good sunscreen.  While you're at it, make a post later tonight letting me know how many kids showed up and how much candy you have left over.

Make a post with all that info and anything else that comes to mind.  I'm sure they're dying to know.  Uh oh, sun's coming up and I can hear Claudia trying to decide which Halloween scarf to wear.  Got to go.  See you tonight.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy National...

Candy Corn Day!
October 30, 2008
I'll celebrate National Candy Corn Day, because this 100+ year old candy deserves a little respect.  It has, after all, been around since the 1880's and remained unchanged since its inception.  I'm no candy expert, but that seems worthy of boasting.  I must also admit, there are few other candies so recognizable and so closely associated with the Halloween holiday.  One search through Google's revealed close to 450,000 candy corn images.  Look at all the ways candy corn has been adapted and celebrated as an iconic symbol of fall and of Halloween.

There was more.  Tutu's earrings, witch hats, candles, napkin rings, baby rattles, t-shirts, belts, t-shirts, tote bags, necklaces, sculptures, and on it went for 450,000 images!

But, the truth is I'm not totally feeling the Candy Corn celebration.  I'm not feeling it, because to me candy corn tastes a little like wax.  Visually, I give the candy a 10.  It's perfect in size, color, and shape.  But taste matters when you're coughing up calories for candy.  It'd be a hard sell to get me to give up my Whoppers or Special Dark Hershey bars for a serving of candy corn (even if candy corn is only 3.57 calories per kernel). 

When I was a kid and we returned home after trick or treating, we would spread all our candy out on the living room floor and start sorting through it.  Gum in one pile, lollipops in another, chocolate in a third, tootsie rolls and other chewy candy in yet another, and then there was the "...and that" pile.  That was all the candy we we were willing to trade or, better yet... give away!  Candy corn was in my "And That" pile.

How about you?

Are you in or not when it comes to candy corn?

I had a thought...  What if all the Highlowaha readers who feel like I do about Candy Corn agreed to award one lucky Highlowaha Candy Corn Lover with all the candy corn acquired on Halloween night?  Wouldn't that be fun?  Let's do it.

Tell us, thumbs up or thumbs down on candy corn and give a signal as to whether or not you would be willing to send yours or to be the recipient.

One more thing.  I don't want to be a kill joy just because I don't love candy corn, so... if you have a favorite candy corn story, recipe, craft, or other adaptation, let us know.  I'm willing to go along for the ride.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Watching You!

You know what else is fun about Halloween?

It's filled with mystery.  At Halloween you can leave anonymous notes and treats for people and it somehow fits into the spirit of the holiday.  Here's an admission.  When I was in my late 20's and early 30s I would use Halloweens to send an a cryptic message to someone I was admiring from afar.  Sometimes it would be letters cut from a magazine, sometimes a note written in code or written mirror backwards.  Each year one recipient and always employing a different tactic.  It was fun.  I never revealed myself, because that wasn't the point.  Instead, I took simple pleasure in believing I was making someone feel important.  I've gotten a secret admirer note or two in my life time and it feels good to know someone recognizes your for something they see as unique.

This year I made cookies.  I plan on packaging them in small boxes and leaving the small bundles around town.  One will go to the cafeteria worker who makes my boys lunches every day with a note that says, "I'm watching you and you make a difference."   Another will read, "Eye spy someone hardworking
," and will go to the dedicated swim coach who spends every afternoon with my oldest son.  A third box might be left in particular chair at "my" Starbucks, where the same woman shows up every morning, 15 minutes after me, to enjoy a Venti coffee, a cup of ice water, and a snack.  I'm not sure what her note will say yet, but I've still got a few days to think about it.  Who knows... f you live in town, one might just show up on your door step!

By the way... I got the idea for these cookies from ping pong balls painted to look like blood shot eye balls.  I loved them when I saw them.  In fact, I bought two bags of the eyeballs, so I could fill a vase with them and use it as a centerpiece.  What could be simpler?  Round cookies, white icing, and then decorated with black, blue, and red.

Do you have a trick or treat up your sleeve that you will use to recognize someone deserving in your community?  Tell us about it.

  • Pumpkin Patch: Remember to submit a picture of your Jack-o-Lantern to Katie at kkolkmeier@gmail.  The deadline is today at 5:00 - though I bet if you asked nicely she'd give you an extension.
  • Blog-a-thon: We only had one new taker yesterday.  Thank you, Heather.  Tera, I got your request and I will work up a short blurb before day's end.  Thank you for being diligent in trying to recruit other writers.
Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Thing Leads to Another

Announcements at the end.

Today's post represents a little bit of what this blog is supposed to be about at its very core  -simple, but creative, ideas that can be used to celebrate (or build) community.  But what makes today's idea especially fun for me is that it wasn't planned.  One thing led to another and here we are.  I like it because I think that's how creativity works.  One idea sparks another, which in turn sparks something else and before you know it, an idea is born.

Don't get too excited.  It's not that what I've created is all that grand.  In fact, you might take one look at it and think, "Big Whoop, I could do that with my eyes closed."  What makes my creation fun is the process by which it happened.  Here's a recap.

Saturday night.  Host Random Acts of Kindness party.  Inform guests that I would love if they could clear my table of all the treats and chatchka.  Because I host the party every year, there are inevitably trinkets left from one year to the next.  Host the party 18 times and you can imagine how many trinkets I have acquired over time.  This is year I wanted them all gone, so I could start anew in 2009.

Guests do a great job of using most everything, but still (when consolidated) there is a large Halloween bowl of trinkets left.  The majority of the trinkets are kid-related items, which makes sense since the bulk of our packages probably went to adults.  Desperate to rid myself of clutter, I move toward the garbage can with trinkets in hand.  

Feeling guilty, I reconsider.  Maybe I could give them to the kids in Matthew's class.  Problem...while I have a few of a variety of items,  I don't have 24 of any single item.

Then I think... Grab Bags!  With grab bags you can do hodge podge.  Yes, I will clear out my clutter while doing something nice for Matthew's classmates.  

Together Matthew and I decorated white lunch bags with markers and festive Halloween stickers.  All the while I was having flash backs to Christmas time in elementary school.  The day before Christmas vacation we would often times have a class grab bag.  They felt magical to me.  There was nothing but hope and possibility with a grab bag.  Grab bags are both luck and skill.  With a grab bag you get to reach your hand in, feel around and make some kind of decision on which of all the items you would most want to settle (books of Lifesavers were always a hit).

But packaging is everything (!), so in what will I put the grab bags?  I don't have a big, black, ominous looking bag.  I could - quick - try to make one (there is no length to which we won't go for great looking packaging).  But I don't really know how to sew and while there is no length to which I won't go, I can't really assume there is no length to which a good friend or neighbor won't go.

Then I remember the box in my garage.  The box immediately reminded me of Halloweens from when I was a kid.  Remember sticking your hand in a box and feeling eye balls (peeled grapes), intestines (cooked spaghetti), a heart (peeled tomatoes), and blood (tomato juice)?  

My idea is developing.

I still have some black spray paint left over from last week's mailing-tubes-turned-magician-wands (see post from 10/21).  I'll spray the box black and cut holes in it.  Matthew and his classmates can try their luck.  Reach your hand in and find eyeballs and guts.  Walk around to the other side of the box and claim your grab bag.

That's it.

The idea isn't going to win an award, but from my perspective it works for a couple of reasons.  First, I can use up all the Halloween trinkets that have been accumulating (and taking up storage space) for the past few years.  Second, I can do something nice for Matthew and his classmates.  Third, it allows me to exercise my creativity and to turn the value of any single item (nickel trinkets, half can of black paint, and cardboard box) into something that feels far more valuable.

Leftover trinkets.  Toss or keep?
Pack away until later or use?
Find a group totaling number of trinkets available or improvise?
Present each kid with different items or disguise items?
Distribute to kids or let them pick?
Pick (automatically makes their bag feel cooler)
Grab bag or Grab box?
Grab Box.
Keep it simple or add holes?
Add holes.  Make it gross.

Gross is cool when you're four years old and it's Halloween.

That's it.  That's the evolution of this idea.  

How about you?  Is anybody doing anything fun this Halloween season?  Do share.  There's still time for us to copy.

  • Blog-a-thon:  We've had 10 people sign up already.  If you didn't tune in yesterday... we are "doing over" the Highlowaha Blog-a-thon.  It s scheduled for Wednesday, November 5, between 10:00 a.m. CST and 10:00 p.m.  CST.  We are asking that each participant register for a 15- minute period of time.  During his/her designated period of time, participants will commit to spending a portion of their time co-authoring a scary story.  Simply read what the person before you wrote and add on.  To sign up for a time, simply make a post in today's comment section.  Click on "Blog-a-thon," listed in the top right hand section of my blog, labeled, "Troop 218's Hot Spots." 
  • Pumpkin Patch: Remember to submit a picture of your carved pumpkin to be entered in Friday's Pumpkin Carving Contest.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Do Over

A few years ago a good friend of mine called to vent about the a less-than-perfect attempt her husband made at celebrating her birthday.  No forethought, no dinner plans, no nothing.  In fact - if my memory serves me correctly, her husband even scheduled a minor medical treatment for that weekend (but not so minor that he wouldn't be laid up for a couple of days).  We agreed her best course of action was not to come completely unhinged, but instead to simply inform him he was being granted a "do-over."  The "do-over" is recognition that what's done is done and that sometimes things don't go as planned.  Rather than dwelling on past imperfections, a do-over focuses on the opportunity to make things right in the future.

Today I want a do-over.  Actually I need two do-overs.

First, I need a do-over of Saturday night's Random Acts of Kindness Party.  By most accounts the party was a success.  Everyone expected was able to attend.  The table was chock FULL of treats, the food was good, friendships were being forged, and, by my estimation, 34 random acts of kindness were boxed up and made ready for delivery.  But, I have notta one picture to share with you!  UGH!  I took my memory card out of my camera on Saturday morning to post the picture of Matthew in his Batman costume and, in all the confusion, I forgot to put it back in my camera.  Not one picture of all the fun treats, vibrant colors, impressive packaging, and smiling faces.  I am so frustrated!

So... you'll have to take my word for it, unless Heather, Cheryl, Erica, or any of the other participants who are visiting today, wants to chime in.

That is my first do-over.  Now the second.  

The Blog-a-thon that never happened.  If you tuned in last week, you might already know the Blog-a-thon Do-over is planned for Wednesday, November 5.  You might also have heard we are shortening the length of the Blog-a-thon, so that it will only last twelve hours - as opposed to the originally planned twenty-for hours.  The Do-Over Blog-a-thon will run from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m... CENTRAL STANDARD TIME!

Of course the down side to the re-vamped schedule is that, rather than raising close to $1,500.00, we will -at best - raise $720.00 for the Helping Hand family we adopted this holiday season.  For more about the service project, please click on Helping Hands listed in the top right hand corner of our blog (under #218's Hot Spots). 

The real beauty of this do-over is that in addition to my getting a second chance, so do all of YOU!!!  If you were unable to sign up for the original Blog-a-thon, hopefully the new schedule will work for you (and your friends).  Highlowaha is seeking 48 people - each to sign up for one 15-minute block of time.  During that 15-minute period of time, blog-a-thon participants will help compose a scary story.  It does not mean participants must write for the full 15 minutes, it just means that at some point during your designated 15-minute period of time, you must contribute something to the story. 

A reminder of how the Blog-a-thon will serve as a fundraiser.  Ideally, each of the 48 participants will acquire a minimum of one sponsorship for $1.00 per minute.  Again, if each participant was successful we could raise $720.00 for the family.  If $1.00 per minute is too much, we will take whatever your sponsor considers doable.  Checks should be sent to me, so I can reconcile the money and send Tera one money order for the total amount.  My mailing address is 4012 Harvestwood Court, Grapevine, Texas 76051.  

  • Blog-a-thon: Sign up for your 15-minute time slot by posting a comment under today's comment section.  I will add to the master calendar which you can view by clicking on Blog-a-thon (located in the top right, under 218 Hot Spots).  When you make a post with your ideal time, please remember we are scheduling people based on CENTRAL STANDARD TIME.  Please calculate the time difference when you post your requested time.
  • Pumpkin Patch:  Remember to send CSPgrad a picture of your carved pumpkin by Wednesday, October 29 at 5:00 p.m.  On Friday we will host a Pumpkin Carving Contest.  All participants will receive a pumpkin patch for your Patchwork denim.  See the post titled, Patchwork 8/7, for more details.  The winner of the Pumpkin Carving Contest will receive a fun Halloween accessory to give you a jump on next year.
  • Making Good: Between bobbing for apples and a couple other contests, I feel like I need to assure I am making good on all my promises.  Check this out and tell me if I've left you out.  I think everyone who is waiting to receive something from me has, EXCEPT... Brian you are waiting for your apple of quotes.  Cassie you are waiting for your cookies. Heather I still need to conduct an act of kindness in your name.  Amy your random act was performed last week when I left a painted pot of baked goods for a fellow "swim mom."  Nicole, one of my Random Act of Kindness packages from Saturday night will be sent in honor of YOU!
  • Countdown to the Super Bowl:  The secret ingredient for this week's showdown is the peanut.  Good luck to Treye and Melanie who will duking it out... along with Green Bay and the Chicago Bears.  
Now let's hope this Monday gets off to a good start, so I don't need yet another do-over.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Batman Strikes Again...

When I was a kid the neighbors on Hollywood Avenue would sit outside and wait to see what remarkable Halloween costumes the three Kamhi girls were wearing.  They were always special, always ingenious, and always homemade.  Some of the costumes I remember were characters such Pinocchio (with a long paper mache nose), Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel (with a handmade wig that reached the floor), a chef, a cook, an artist; and a scarecrow to name a few.

The older I got the more proud I became of our costumes and of the spectacle they became to the neighbors who waited in anticipation.

If I being really truthful, it made me more than proud.  It made me a Halloween costume snob. I would excitedly hunker down in my apartment on Halloween night, in my 20s and early 30s, waiting for trick or treaters to knock on my door.  Of course anyone who rang the door bell got candy, but the kids with great (code for homemade costumes) got an extra candy bar or the really good stuff (Milk Ways or Snickers) instead of the second rate treats like candy corn.  I was indignant, knowing that one day I would have my own kids and they, for sure, would be sporting homemade costumes and scoring all kinds of Milky Way and Snickers bars.

Then I met Richard and Ricky and all of a sudden I was going to get to put my money where my mouth was.  The first time I participated in one of Ricky's Halloweens, Richard and I weren't married yet and  I had no say in the store bought Harry Potter costume he pranced around the living room showing off.  I have NO idea how to sew, so the next year I supplied my mom with all the supplies and she made Ricky an unbelievably detailed Indian costume.  The whole costume was topped off with a pair of moccasins  and a bow and arrow.  I did it!  My first Halloween with a child and Ricky had a costume worth remarking on.  The next three years I hired a local woman to make Ricky his costumes - Dracula, a pirate, and the Grim Reaper.

Fast forward five years.  On Wednesday, October 22, Matthew's polyester Batman costume arrived in the mail.  He's been wearing it ever since, flying from room to room saving family members from scary bad guys.  I never learned how to work a sewing machine and though I've mastered the hot glue gun, I haven't yet employed it to create the boys a Halloween costume.  

Here's my "aha."  Halloween is not about me.  It's about my boys.  It's my pride, my ego, and my desire to have my kids "ooohd and aaahd" over that makes a homemade costume feel important.  It has nothing to do with them.  Matthew thinks being Batman for Halloween - polyester cape, mask, and all - is the coolest, greatest, most awesome thing EVER. He changes in and out of that costume 4 or 5 times a day, showing it to everyone and practicing his Batman moves.  He thinks his room is Gotham City, Jack is Robin, dad is The Joker, Ricky the Riddler, and I'm Cat Woman (remember this is his imagination at work).  

Here's the point.  There is absolutely no costume that I could work and toil over that would excite Matthew as much as the Batman costume he will be wearing this year.  Imposing my need for a homemade costume on a young child who doesn't value it, just so some third party adults will think I am super mom is... well... selfish.   It says more about my need for affirmation than it does about anything else.

No.  I am not super mom and my children will be wearing store bought Halloween costumes when they go trick or treating this year.  No one will be "ooohing" and "aaahing" over the craftsmanship of their costumes and admiring the devoted woman behind their outfits.  To the rest of the world my boys will look ordinary and their trick or treat buckets will probably be filled with far more Candy Corn than Snickers.  But, Matthew feels as big as Batman... super powers and all.  That's gotta be worth the $28.99 his costume cost.

So today my high, my low, and my aha are intertwined.  My high is watching Matthew fly around the house - cape floating - imagining he is Batman.  My low is letting go of a lifelong belief that homemade costumes are better than store bought costumes.  And, my "aha" is that the selflessness involved in allowing Matthew to have a costume that excites HIM is actually way harder to come by than the selfishness of imposing a costume on Matthew that might make me look good. 

Signing off until tomorrow.  The Bat Mobile just pulled into my kitchen.

P.S.  Peanuts won - 8 votes to 4 votes.  Good luck Melanie and Treye.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Packaging from A-Z

Is it funny or what?  Today is Friday - Free for all Friday.  For those of you who have forgotten, or who are new to the game, this is the day of the week when we open up the blog to brainstorm anything and everything of interest to you.

Heading into the day with a full docket of things to talk about (ie. six letters worth of packaging materials) goes a little against the grain.  As it happens, these last six letters have proved tough for me.  It's not that I came up completely dry.  I kind of thought "U" could stand for a unique signature or symbol that people will automatically associate with you and your packages.  I thought "V" could be vellum paper; "W" could be a wax seal; "X" if I'm stretching it could be an x-acto blade; "Y" I'm not sure; and "Z" could either be ziploc bags for storing opened bags of shred or "ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz" for all the sleep you'll need after experimenting with letters A-Y.

I wasn't completely tapped out of ideas, but on a scale of 1-10 - with 10 being the winningest idea and 1 being "showed up," I give myself a "1."  Lucky for me, it's Friday - the day meant for me to talk a little less and to listen a little more.  So, today I will sit back with my bucket of bon bons, put my feet up, and listen to what ideas you have for which products or tools, corresponding with the last six letters of the alphabet, can be used to enhance our gift wrapping.

Lest you think I'm checking out, I'm not.  I'm taking careful note and preparing to run out for any last minute "must have's" before Saturday night's Eighteenth Annual Random Acts of Kindness Packaging Party.  Party goers are prepared to put together 3-4 festive packages for unsuspecting people with whom they would like to reconnect (or even get to know).  Each person attending will be a dozen of some small treat to be placed on a community table and shared with the other party goers who will do the same.  I will supply the A-Zs of packaging essentials, including everything from boxes to envelopes, tissue paper, ribbon, stickers, and notecards.  We will eat dinner, mix and mingle, and and - with love and care - put together packages for people who are on our minds.  For more about this idea, check out the post from 2/20/08, titled, "Birds of a Feather..."

I'm reserving one of my care packages for someone truly random.  For someone that one of you knows and you thinks is deserving.  I don't have a smart way for determining who that might be, so I figure I will get select name from a reader who makes a post today.  If you make suggestions today for letters "U" through "Z," I will put your names in a hat and then select one of you to give me the name and address of someone you would like to receive a package made at Saturday's Random Act of Kindness.  

But that's not all we have to decide on today.  Today we must also look ahead to next week's showdown between Treye and Melanie in the Foot ball Snack Throw Down.  Here's a little recap of where we've been...
Richard versus Brian: Secret Ingredient: Bacon, winner Richard
Julie versus Nicole: Secret Ingredient: Vanilla, winner Nicole
Maureen versus Katie: Secret Ingredient: Nutmeg, winner Maureen

This secret ingredients we are voting on today are... (drum roll, please...)

Peanuts or Coconut

Final Announcement
  • Congratulations, Cheryl who was the winner of yesterday's drawing.  Cheryl will win a small box of raffia, ribbon, and rubber cement.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The A-Zs of Packaging: P-T

Announcements at the end.

Can we make a pact?  Can we each promise that as we package up Halloween treats, Thanksgiving surprises, or Christmas and Hanukkah presents that we will try at least one new packaging trick shared on Highlowaha?

Me?  I've picked up quite a few new tips.  I love the idea of using lace to wrap packages; I'll search high and low for the metal tags Peggy mentioned,  And, I'll steal the easy, but quirky suggestion of covering packages in fun words like, "Quack."

How about you?  Tell me the trick or treat you are willing to commit to trying and be entered in a drawing to win a supply of today's featured item.  Here are a few more you can "choose to use."  

Today we will cover letters P through T.
  • P: Paper Cutter, Postcards, and Paint Pens.  My husband bought me my paper cutter for Valentine's Day one year and it is, by far, one of the most used items in my artillery of creative tools.  The nice thing is that most paper cutters (mine is a Fiskars) have interchangeable blades.  Mine can cut, score, or perforate paper.  I have a lot to say about postcards, but for that I'll wait a couple more weeks.  Finally, paint pens...  Look at how I used paint pens to decorate the plastic barrel of fun I sent T. Shay during our USPS Prank.

  • Q: Quotes: I wandered a craft store a few weeks ago to make sure I wasn't missing an essential tool or item and, to be honest, to search of items that start with crazy letters like "Q," "V," and "X."  The only thing in the entire store I could find that started with the letter "Q" was quilling paper.  Quilling is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs.  It's not something I've ever done and, though I love paper, I don't see myself delving in anytime soon.  As for quotes.  Google is a great resource for over literally over a million quotes.  Here's one that caught my eye.  "The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ideas and enthusiasm."
  • R: Ribbon, Raffia, and Rubber Cement:  Today will be sponsored by the letter "R."  I like all the letters we're featuring today, but "R" starts the name of some of my favorite goodies.  I love ribbon, raffia, rubber cement, and rubber stamps (though I am not very proficient with them).  Ribbon I love and I will talk more about why under today's featured item.  Raffia is sort of like ribbon, but I use it when I want the package to have a more "earthy" feel.  Today I am sending Cassie the baked good she won from bobbing for apples.  I am wrapping them in brown paper, so I'll use raffia and some shred (matte not shimmery) to finish off the package.  Check it out.  Rubber cement.  I love it.  No lumps.  You can rub off the excess rubber cement, and if you make a mistake you can remove what you have glued without ruining the picture or clipping.
  • S: Stickers and Sharpie Markers:  My sticker collection rivals my neckerchief collection and Aunt Annie's accessory collection.  I have A LOT of stickers.  To me, they just add a little something to the outside of an envelope or box.  Amy shared with the group in Philadelphia that she likes to use stickers of people's initials to address their boxes.  I have been the lucky recipient of Amy's packages and it is true.  Receiving a package bearing your initials in bright colored letters automatically brings a smile to your face.  It's become a trademark of Amy's over time.  Do you have a package trademark?  I don't, but I want one.
  • T: Tubes, Tissue Paper, and Tags: I love tubes.  I think you can have totally tubular fun when using it to send a package.  Flat and square = predictable.  Circular and long = F*U*N!  Tissue paper I like to buy in "folds" of assorted colors.  I feel like it makes any package seem a touch more luxurious (maybe not the perfect word, but you know what I mean).  Tags.  Tags are even more abbreviated than the small note cards we talked about yesterday.  They are a perfect way to attach a name or a short note without compromising the "look" of the package.  Take a look.

Sticky note vs. Decorative tag

Today's Featured Item: Ribbon.
A quick note.  All ribbon is not created equal.  Today we will compare three ribbon choices - curling ribbon, satin ribbon, and wired ribbon.  Curling ribbon is the least expensive and most frequently used.  When I use curling ribbon, I usually double it or even quadruple it to make sure it looks fuller.  Satin ribbon is a great way to upgrade your package.  It's a touch nicer than curling ribbon and often comes with decorative patterns (a roll at hobby Lobby is $1.00, on sale).  Finally is wired ribbon.  To me this is the easiest ribbon to work with, because you can move it and shape it however you like.  Take a look at the same package, all wrapped in brown paper but using three different kinds of ribbon.
Blog-a-thon:  Help spread the word.  The Blog-a-thon will not take place this Friday.  Due to limited participation, we have moved the date to Wednesday, November 5.  We have also shortened the length.  Sign ups for the new date will begin on Saturday.
Helping Hand:  I got word yesterday that an update has been on the Helping Hand website.  Check it out.  We are getting closer to the the deadline for making contributions for the family we adopted for the holiday season.
Pumpkin Patch:  Don't forget.  Enter our pumpkin carving contest by submitting a picture of your Jack-o-Lantern to by Wednesday, October 29 at 5:00 p.m.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The A-Zs of Packaging: K-O

For those just tuning in, two questions.  First, where have you been? Second, do you have a glue gun?  If the answer to question #2 is, "No," then go directly to yesterday's post.  Do not pass "go.".   Do not collect $200.00.  Immediately log off, head straight for Michael's craft store (or something like it) and purchase yourself a hot glue gun.  You'll be a better equipped and I'll sleep better.

In honor of my Eighteenth Annual Random Acts of Kindness party, scheduled for this Saturday at 6:00, we are spending the week celebrating the art of packaging.  As noted yesterday, if you're in town and want to drop by, feel free.  The more the merrier.  Have no idea what I am talking about?  Check out the pictures below and read more about the idea on the post dated 2/20/08 (the pictures below, by the way, are from Amy's party hosted last weekend).

Yesterday we explored items such as foam shapes, the essential glue gun, hole punches, HLA labels (love it) initiating ideas to spark our innovative packaging, and above all... Tera's suggestion that a little bit of "F"un should be included in each package we make.

Today we move on to letters K-O.  As always, feel free to share some of your favorite products, beginning with the corresponding letters.  As for my top packaging picks of the day... here they are: 
  • K: Krinkle:  This is the point in the week when things really get fun.  We've revealed enough packaging products that we can begin mixing and matching to get the full effect of how, when these items are used in concert, we can improve the presentations of our packages... exponentially!  Krinkle is one example of this.  Cellophane, combined with foam cut outs, combined with krinkle can work wonders.  Incidentally, there are two kinds of Krinkle (sometimes called Shred).  There is matte, paper-like form of Krinkle and then there is the shimmery, more metallic-like version.  I like the matte, paper version if I am wrapping in brown paper (it feels more earthy) and the more metallic-like krinkle for just about everything else.  More on that below, as krinkle will be today's featured item.
  • L: Labels:  If time was not an issue I would always cut out a fun shape on which to write the address of the person receiving my package.  It doesn't take that much longer, but it makes the package seem more fun from the outset.  Take a look at AZLori and Peggy's packages to hit the mail later today.  Another source of fun labels can be images from old wrapping paper.  At the end of the holiday season, I love to cut shapes out of the paper in anticipation of using them as gift tags/labels the next year (I store them with my wrapping paper).

  • M: Michael's, Magazines and Mod Podge:  If I've said it once, I've said it a million times... you should NEVER have to pay full price for a craft supply.  Michael's typically issues a weekly coupon for a 40% discount on the item of your choice (sometimes 50%).  Hobby Lobby and Joann Fabrics does it too.  The only "M"-related thing I might like more than that is the combination of Magazines and Mod Podge.  Come to think of it... I like it, but CSPgrad has perfected it as an art.  I will let her share some of the ways she uses Mod Podge and magazines.  Take it away, Katie.
  • N: Notecards: Unless you're Peggy, who can whip up a great looking card in a snap, good notecards are hard to find, but boy can they make a difference when sending a package.  You can have a great looking package, but if you cap it off with a note scribbled on a post-it note, you have undermined your good work up to that point.  Target carries a block of notecards and matching envelopes.  They aren't great looking, but with a sticker or a fun hole punch in the top, the notecard can finish the package off nicely.  For those of you into fashion, not crafts... think of it this way.  It would be as though you were sporting a beautiful, well coordinated new outfit, but on your feet were old, scuffed, and dull shoes.  Notecards are like the "toe" of dressing nicely from "head to toe."
  • O: O Shaped Paper:  Speaking of paper and Target... they also sell round pieces of paper that I use for either quick notes or mailing labels (when I don't have time to cut a shape).  They are different enough that they keep you package feeling special.  Look how easy!
Today's Featured Item:  Krinkle.

The item... fun Halloween socks, per one of your Friday suggestions

Pre krinkle and post krinkle
(though I must admit... the pictures are not doing the post pictures justice!)

That's it for today.  Tomorrow, letters P-T.

Signing off until tomorrow...  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The A-Zs of Packaging: F-J

Announcements at the end.

Welcome back for another fun-filled day of packaging.  For those of you just tuning in, we are spending this week exploring some of the items that turn an ordinary gift into something extraordinary.  Yesterday we covered letters A-E, touting the importance of everything from... yes, Altoid tins to construction paper, candy, die cuts, boxes, envelopes, and DCWV paper.  But the real star of yesterday's post was "C"ellophane.

Cellophane catches light and by doing so makes your treat sparkle and appear fancier.  It crinkles when you touch it and it makes most anything look a touch more crisp than it would otherwise.  If you don't own a roll, invest in one.  A little bit goes a long way and it is well worth the money.

Maybe you're not convinced.  Maybe you don't buy into the idea that packaging is as important as I'm suggesting.  Here's a recent example of how packaging influenced my decision making.  

My mother in law invited me for lunch and a pedicure on my birthday.  It wasn't the first pedicure I'd ever had, but pedicures are not part of my normal routine, so I was E*X*C*I*T*E*D.  When we walked into the spa where our appointments were booked, we were met with cascading water behind the receptionists desk and warm and welcoming smiles by the women who were working.  Soon we were escorted to the back, immediately swept off our feet, warm neck pillows put in place, masks placed gently over our eyes, and all while sitting in comfortable reclining chairs.  I'd love to tell you more, but truth is I fell asleep.  Yes, I did say pedicure, not massage!

This was by far the best pedicure experience I have ever had (or ever heard of anyone else having), beginning with the ambiance of the spa, the calming music, the voice of the nail technician, and on an on.  That pedicure was well packaged.  Could I whisk down the block to the strip mall and, in the end, have the same painted nails, while sitting under flourescent lights and watching cars come and go from the parking lot?  Sure.  But the packaging of scenario two would not keep me talking for weeks.  And it certainly isn't where I will go when I, in turn, want to give the gift a pedicure.  I will go with option one.

My pedicure is an example of how we might package a service to make it more appealing, but in anticipation of my Eighteenth Annual Random Acts of Kindness Party, we will stay focused on the packaging of items - presents if you will.  Today's letters... F-J.  Let's get busy.
  • F: Foam Shapes.  I'm sure there are a lot of other "F" items you will come up with, but this is the one for me.  I LOVE foam shapes for how effectively they add dimension to a package.  I have them in countless color and shapes.  I have Halloween pumpkins, witches, and ghosts; fall leaves; Christmas trees; snowmen; snowflakes of all shapes; hearts; letters; animals; weather related shapes, like clouds, lightening bolts, and raindrops; geometric shapes, and more.  This will be today's showcased item, so stay tuned.
  • G: Glue Gun.  Thing about my foam shapes is that they are made impossible without a glue gun (a hot glue gun, that is).  Do you have one?  If you don't, drop what you are doing this very minute (which is reading my blog) and proceed to your nearest craft store.  My blog can wait.  I'm serious.  If you do not own a hot glue gun it is not o.k..  I cannot rest until I am quite sure that everyone who reads this blog has one.
  • H: Hot glue gun and hole punches.  Have I mentioned the essential nature of a hot glue gun when making any real attempts at extraordinary packaging?  If you're still reading this and you don't have a hot glue gun, you have not taken my plea seriously enough.  If you already own one, then we will move on to Hole Punches.  I love hole punches.  Hole punches can be used to embellish a simple index card or to create homemade confetti for inside a card or package.  I have quite a few shapes, but my recent favorite has to be the fall leaf I just sent Chris Peres (who won it while bobbing for apples (F is for Festival, 10/16).
  • I: Idea or theme.  Yes, sometimes your idea for packaging will come from the "theme" of the party or gift itself.  For example, Cassie recently had a birthday party for her boys.  The invitations looked like magic hats with rabbit ears sticking out (pull the ears and out comes the invitation).  A magician was scheduled to be at the party, so I thought it might be fun to have the packaging be magic related.  We painted long white mailing tubes black to look like magic wands and then dipped the ends in silver glitter.  Once completed, we filled the tubes with magic tricks and other treats.  Point.  The theme of the party inspired the idea for packaging the gift.  Below is another.  Richard got cowboy boots for his birthday.  I didn't have fun wrapping paper, so instead I used the box and let the gift inspire the wrapping.

  • J: Jewelry Accessory Bags:  This was a hard letter, but then I remembered about a recent purchase I made.  I bought a package of 100 small jewelry accessory bags, not to hold jewelry, but instead to hold small treats that I sometimes want to package.  Patchwork patches are a good example.  Instead of just throwing your hard-earned Patchwork patch in an envelope, isn't the treat made just a little bit nicer by sealing it in a small bag?  I think so.  
Today's Featured Item:  Foam Shapes!

The $5.00 treat... Dishtowels, per one of your Friday suggestions.


Pre foam shapes and post foam shapes
 (though admittedly not the greatest photograph)

Today's Treat: Yesterday's packaged treat was given away as a Random Act of Kindness, per the suggestion of Amy - one of the Bobbing for Apple participants who won a Random Act done in their favor.  Today's treat goes to Lori who, while bobbing for apples, won one of this week's treats.
DCWV Giveaway:  Peggy's on a roll.  She is yesterday's lucky winner of the pad of DCWV paper (seems rather appropriate).  
Pumpkin Patch: Remember, earn a pumpkin patch for your Patchwork jeans by submitting a picture of a carved Jack-o-Lantern to by Wedneday, October 29 at 5:00 p.m.  The winning Jack-o-Lantern will receive a prize in the mail. 
Blog-a-thon: Difficulty getting people to participate means we will be forced to do two things: (1) move the day of the Blog-a-thon to Wednesday, November 5 and (2) shorten the length of the Blog-a-thon to 10:00 am - 10:00 pm.  Hopefully the changes allow us to be successful in reaching our goal to raise money for the Helping Hand family we adopted for the holiday season. 
Paint the Town Red: I know some of you continue to stay committed to our  goal of collecting as many Reward points as you can for Heather's friend Julie.  Maybe Heather will post a comment today with the latest standings.  For more information see post labeled, Paint Your Town Red, 9/13.
Fess Up:  If you don't have a glue gun, get it off your chest and tell us now.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The A-Zs of Packaging

Announcements at the end...

I love this week.  I won't go as far as to say, I've waited the whole year for this week, but it will rank right up there as among my favorites - regardless of how well I execute.  If people - like companies - had tag lines, mine would have to either be, "Think Big" or "Packaging is Everything."  Both are phrases I probably utter way too often and both are sentiments that drive much of how I approach life.  

This week is dedicated to my Eighteenth Annual Random Acts of Kindness Packaging Party.  For the die hards who have been with me from the beginning, you will remember me referencing the party idea early (2/20), in a blog titled, "Birds of a Feather..."  That post, however, was compliments of Amy, who also hosts an annual Random Acts Packaging Party.  This week we'll be gearing up for mine - to be held Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. (if you're in town and want to come, just say the word). 

The philosophy of the party... send packages to unsuspecting people.  They can be people who whom you've fallen out of touch; people you know need a pick me a up; a former boss or colleague; or even someone you would like to know, but whom you've not yet met.  Party-goers decide  for themselves.  Each guest brings twelve small items and I supply the A-Zs of packaging - all the things that transform a simple item into a magical and thoughtful gift.  It's those things (tissue paper, ribbon, gift tags, stickers, etc...) that we will be talking about this week on Highlowaha. 

Maybe by the end of the week you will be inspired to host your own Packaging Party.  We'll see.  And, if you don't want to host a packaging party, use this to establish a check list of creative items to consider having on hand.  As you know all too well, part of being creative is surrounding yourself with creative tools.

Five days; 26 letters.  That's five letters per day and six on the last.  Today... Letters A-E.  Before I jump in, let me say a few things.  Some of you are probably more qualified.  No.  Some of you ARE more qualified than I am to be doing this segment.  Play along with me, anyway.  Enhance this week's blog by sharing your brainstorms and adding your own favorite items, beginning with the day's assigned letters.  As excited as you are, let's try to stick to the letters of the day and not jump ahead (otherwise I'll be out of business by Tuesday afternoon).  O.k. here we go...
  • A: Address Book: O.k., I'm cheating a little bit.  This is a weak beginning, but you nonetheless essential to mailing packages.  I like to remind my party goers to bring their address books.  There's something fun about watching people flipping through their address books (or phone) and deciding right there, on the spot, who will be the recipients of their packages.
  • B: Boxes: White boxes from the Container Store are my number one choice.  They are white, clean and just waiting to be decorated.  It's worth noting that box tape can be simple and clear or can be themed with holiday shapes and colors.  I like to use the themed tape at Christmas.
  • C: Cellophane.  I won't even muddy the water by introducing other important items like confetti and containers, because cellophane is KEY!  Cellophane makes an average treat look extra special.  Peggy uses cellophane bags to package her beautiful greeting cards and the bags make her cards look like they belong in boutiques.
  • D: DCWV Paper(Diecut With a View) and Double Stick Tape.  I'll be honest.  DCWV paper is new to my artillery of necessary items.  I'm not a scrap booker and my Scrap Journaling system is so simple there is not room for fancy paper (see 7/28-7/30).  What I don't use in scrap booking, I love to use in making my own notecards and tags.  The DCWV paper comes in a variety of patterns and colors.  I take a sheet from the pad and then mount a piece of card stock on top.  It's not a fun and fancy card like Peggy might make, but it's a couple cuts above a sticky note or a blank white index card.
  • E: Envelopes:  Like the white boxes from the Container Store, I only use white envelopes from the Container Store.  Brown envelopes are not an option (markers don't show up as well) and envelopes with preprinted spaces for addressing the package leave no room for using creative shapes as your labels.
Today's Demonstration: Each day I will pick one of the items and feature it by using it to "package" something.  Hopefully the demonstration allows you to see the potential of the items featured.  Today we'll showcase cellophane.  I painted a terra cotta pot to hold the cookies I baked (as one of the suggested Random Acts of Kindness from an Apple Bobbing winner - see 10/16).  In the first picture pot and cookies - no cellophane.  In the second picture, same pot, same cookies, and cellophane.  See what you think. 

  • Congratulations, Maureen!  Maureen was this week's winner of the Football Snack Throw Down.  She joins ranks of Richard, Tera, and Nicole.  Next up Melanie and Treye.  Tune in on Friday to help determine this week's secret ingredient.
  • Blog-a-thon: An executive decision will be made by end of day today about how we will proceed with the scheduled Blog-a-thon.  We've had a minimal number of people sign up.  Feel free to make a suggestion.
  • Aunt Annie: Aunt Annie was in town yesterday and yes, she bought more accessories.  Cowboy boots and another belt.  See picture below.  
  • Win a Prize: DCWV donated a pad of their cool paper to me, for the express purpose of my giving it away to you.  How about this as a criterion for winning the prize.  As noted earlier, I am a big believer that packaging goes a long way in shaping our opinions about a product or service.  Share an example of something you purchase expressly because of the packaging.  Post a comment and your name will go in a drawing for the pad of DCWV paper.
  • Speaking of Prizes: Peggy won Saturday's drawing for the Highlowaha t-shirt.  Peggy, send me an email with your t-shirt size preference and we'll get it ordered.
Signing off until tomorrow...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

FAll Fest: T is for...

Not Thanksgiving, thermometer, trick or treat, turkey, travel, or time zone.  Today we will simply celebrate "TIME".

Time with friends and family.

I'll be quick.  Aunt Annie is visiting from New York for one day only and I want to make the most of my time with her.

We are off to a Justin Boot Outlet - which for those of you who know Aunt Annie and her fetish for boots - will be of no surprise.  See 3/31, "Aunt Annie's Accessories...A, A, A" for the full scoop.

Signing off until tomorrow...

P.S.  Oh, and if you haven't posted your high, low, and aha from yesterday (Saturday), make sure to squeeze in some time to do so.  There's a t-shirt in it for you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall Fest: S is for...


October 18!

We will put on hold all the fun things we could talk about beginning with the letter "s," so that we may partake in our simple, but sacred, highlowaha tradition.  Today is the eighteenth day of the month and, as promised, we will use this day to reflect on the month's highs, lows, and ahas.

For those of you new to Highlowaha, we engage in this tradition as a way of acknowledging the very meaning of our blog's name and purpose.  Under girding Highlowaha is the premise that there are innumerable simple and creative things we can do with our family and friends to slow down the fast paced world in which we are living.  Coming together to share the high points, low points, and lessons learned is one such example.

So, I will start by sharing mine and then hopefully all of you will follow.  Last month we started something new.  Anyone who posts their high, low, and aha will have his/her name put in a drawing to receive a Highlowaha t-shirt.

Before I start... here is the completed Mad Lib from yesterday.  The words in red are those contributed by our readers.  Enjoy...

"Voting Made Easy as One, Two, Three"

Here are some very old instructions on how to vote, brought to you by the Citizens for Changing Awareness:
  • Step 1: Sign in with one of the snakes at the registration table.  You may have to show them your apple to prove your identity.
  • Step 2: Proceed fiercely to an available brainstorming booth.  (Be sure to close the fire truck behind you so no one can watch you jump.
  • Step 3: How you vote varies from earthling to unicorn.  In some states, you curl by pulling a football with your pinky toe.  In others, you must mark a ballot by placing a "B" in a small store opposite your candidate's dog.
Holy Crabby Patties you will cry.  "Voting's as easy as cheese!"  So be sure to devour on Election Day, because every craft store counts.

Consider this warm up to the blog-a-thon scheduled for Friday, October 24 (Have you signed up for a time yet?).

Now for my high, low, and aha...
  • High: Thoughtful gestures on my 43rd birthday; getting to work with students some this month and being reminded of how much I love it; fall weather; talking to my sister for the first time in a while.
  • Low: Tense relationships; the global economy; and arguing with Weirs (a local furniture store) about dissatisfaction with our kitchen table.
  • Aha: I'm impatient with injustices; if the metal fastener of an envelope is showing, the post office will charge you more for mailing (cover it with tape); Liquid Nails is a better adhesive than Guerrilla Glue when trying to adhere metal to a tile surface.
Signing off until... tomorrow!  I couldn't very well leave you hanging without a "t" on "Fest." 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Fest: "E" is for...


"Elections," you ask?  Of all the words I could choose to represent today - the sixth day of highlowaha's celebration of Fall Fest - why would I pick elections?  There are, after all, other viable words beginning with the letter "E" from which I could choose.  We could celebrate the wonders of Mother Earth; revel in Exercising in the great outdoors; reminisce about beautiful fall Engagements, since Richard and I have our anniversary on November 13; acknowledge the recent Autumnal Equinox; share funny Halloween Epitahs; or even spend one more day dwelling on one of my favorites... Espresso.

As tired of political ads, yard signs, newspaper editorials, and news coverage as we might be, November Elections are an American tradition.  No... an American privilege... and this important privilege, so closely associated with the fall season, warrants our recognition.  

My parents taught me well and cautioned me about the dangers of talking politics, so I will tread lightly.  I suspect, however, that there is some common ground.  Regardless of political affiliation, I I can't imagine that each of us doesn't have a few "choice words" we would like to share after so many days of political campaigning.

That's exactly what I am counting on...

Today, in recognition of Fall Fest - our celebration of things we love about fall - we are going to play a round of Mad Libs.  The story we are completing comes from a book of Mad Libs titled, "Mad Libs for President."  All you'll need to play are a few "choice words."  Here is how it will go...

I will post the first type of word for which we are searching (ie. noun, adverb, adjective, etc...).   A reader will reply by posting his/her choice of word.  Then I will post the second type of word for which we are searching.  A second reader will post his/her choice.  We will do that until all 20 words are identified.  Then I will plug them into the paragraph and post the final story. 

How 'bout it?  A little comic relief at an otherwise tense time in our nation's history?  

The title of our story is... "Voting Made Easy as One, Two, Three."

Our Mad Lib title is especially appropriate, because there are two other things on which we need to vote today.
  • First, what will the score be of this weekend's Packer game?  Place your vote and, if your final score comes closest, you will win a gold patch for your Patchwork Denim.  Also, don't forget to cheer on Maureen and Katie who had the difficult task of incorporating Nutmeg into their recipes.
  • Second.  Next week we have a fun week ahead of us.  In preparation, I need a list of 5 random items that cost $5.00 or less.  Cast your vote.
And finally... the first word we need for our Mad Libs game is... an adjective.

Signing off until... later, when I post the final story.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Fest: "F" is for...

Sponsored by the letter "F," today Highlowaha will continue our week-long celebration of our favorite things to love about fall.  Today we celebrate the great American tradition of fall festivals.  

Check out the names of just a few of the festivals being hosted in towns around the country this month.
Pumpkin Festival
Fall Foliage Festival
Celtic Festival
Farm Fall Festival
New Yorker Festival
Fall Wine Festival
Balloon Festival
Great American Beer Festival
Harvest Festival 
Jazz Festival
Wooly Worm Festival
Children's Film Festival
Medieval Festival
Fall Harvest and and Seafood Festival
Family Festival by the Sea
Maritime Festival
Folkart and Farm Festival
Wildwood Festival
Bellmorre Street Festival

and, the object of our celebration today...

The Highlowaha Apple Festival!  When asked on Monday to share what words beginning with the letter "A" - other than acorn - conjured up fond fall memories, quite a few of you said "apples."  

I figured today we could celebrate apples by sharing our favorite recipes, crafts, and other creative uses for the fruit.  Or, if you're all tapped out on ideas, but you want to share something with our fun highlowaha family, let us know your preference when it comes to apples... soft or hard, red or green, skin or no skin, etc...?

And, what kind of Highlowaha Apple Festival would this be if we didn't go...
Highlowaha Style

Here's how it will work.  There are 41 apples to be retrieved.  Each person will pluck one apple from the tub, assigning it a number between 1-41.  Once an apple has been taken, it is no longer up for grabs.  There is a treat (or a BAD apple) associated with each number.  Post your number and discover treat hidden within your apple.  It would be a shame to have apples unclaimed, so let's see if we can get 41 people to play.

Signing off until tomorrow...    

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Fest: "L" is for...

If you're just tuning in, you will be interested to know that the readers of Highlowaha are in the middle of Fall Fest.  We're spending the week celebrating all the things we've come to love about the fall season.  Guiding us through our tour is of favorites are letters...

Today is our final tribute to the letter "L."
L.L. Bean  

Lands End


Lanterns... Jack-o-Lanterns

Hard to deny the excitement that comes with packing away summer clothes and putting on the first pair of jeans and the first blazer of the season.  I can't actually say I frequently order from L.L. Bean or Land's End, but I love the look of their clothes and I always imagine that if I ordered something from the catalog, I would look just as good as the models do when wearing the items.  Same with hair cuts, by the way.

Parenthetically... I considered using "Lighten your Load" as an "L" phrase for today.  I realize in talking to people about their fall favorites that quite a few of us use fall as a season for organizing our homes and purging ourselves of old belongings.  If you have an organizational tip you would like to share for storing summer clothes, or anything else for that matter, please feel free to share in the comment section.

Lattes... what more do I need to say about this?  You already know I love Starbucks.  This time of year is especially fun  because new flavors are debuted.  I think I heard someone order a Pumpkin Spice Latte yesterday and the Peppermint Latte will be revived soon enough for our holiday shoppers.  Today's post is dedicated to Nicole, whose generous treat that I received in the mail yesterday, paid for the latte I'm drinking this minute.

Finally lanterns... Jack-o-lanterns.  I ran across this short piece titled, The Mystery of the Jack O'Lantern.  If you're interested, check it out...
- OR - 
Consider this... Highlowaha will host its First Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest.  Carve and photograph your pumpkin in time to be shared with the rest of the community on Friday, October 31.  Pictures must be emailed to Katie at  Submit a pumpkin and earn a Pumpkin Patch (Get it?  Pumpkin patch?  Ha! Ha!) for your Highlowaha Patchwork denim (for more information, see post from 8/7 - titled, Patchwork).

Signing off until tomorrow...