Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What a finish, folks!!!

Cheryl here to wrap up all this March Madness! BKRoot started the voting at 7:02 am this morning and the Texas Tidbit's UGallery.com led the way but then the earth quaked and woke the California Golden Girls up and their big idea of wine with recipe tag started to run away with the voting. Both teams rallied their friends to help out. It looked like Art was going to catch up near the end but just at the buzzer, Wine sealed the game with two more votes! Congratulations California Golden Girls!!!

Do we have some readers with big ideas or what? Highlowaha's Bid Idea March Madness gave us all some great ideas to utilize in 2009. From Animoto slide shows to Shutterfly Photobooks, Flashdrives and Elves for Shelves, Snuggies to Frownies there has been something for everyone.

The last two ideas from the Texas Tidbits were:
More ART with artist, Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson – a wonderful artist. She calls her work Paper Paintings. They are awesome pieces done only with paper. She has used Scrabble tiles in past pieces. I purchased a small piece over Christmas called Cherry-on-Top and I love it. I would love to own more of her pieces! Check out her blog. Here is a photo of my piece.

Book: YOU: Being Beautiful by Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen. Dr. Oz is the doctor that’s always on Oprah and full of all kinds of knowledge. The book goes through different parts of the body (face, hair, mouth, nails, etc..) and gives tips on things you can do to make them more beautiful. For example, in the skin/face section, it goes through every kind of vitamin, AHA, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that’s in face creams and lays out what works and what doesn’t and why. Seriously, it’s the best book ever! The You Books also have a website. It’s also full of very useful info on health, nutrition, being beautiful, etc.

The final two ideas from the Champions were:
Giant Cupcake - What better birthday gift to give a friend than to feel like a kid again with a cake in the shape of a GIANT cupcake?! We love the new giant cupcake pans that have come out from companies like Wilton and Williams Sonoma. These cupcakes are about 8 inches in diameter and can happily feed a group of 8. These larger than life cupcakes are also super fun to decorate to fit all occasions! So don’t be shy with the frosting, giant sprinkles and candy to make your cakes festive. We love this website for fabulous design ideas- http://www.allthingscupcake.com/.

Dinner Club - Gather a group of friends who share a passion for food and fun and form a Dinner Club. Our group takes turn to host a dinner every other month or so depending on the group’s availability. The host sends out the invitation, prepares a gourmet dinner including appetizers, entrĂ©e and dessert. The guest comes dressed for the special themed dinner and a big appetite. Our dinner club even has a signature drink – Sangrias that is served at each dinner. It has been a lot of fun for each of us to plan an entire meal and enjoy each other’s cooking.
I'd like to thank all the teams that took the time to gather together, put together your favorite ideas of 2008 and share them with Highlowaha. This would not have been as much fun without all of you.

So, what did the California Golden Girls win? As team captain, Quynh will gather her Golden Girls and head off for Highlowaha's favorite coffee shop, Starbucks. And, while they are sipping on Carmel Macchiato's and Cinnamon Dolce Latte's they will learn more about each other playing the travel version of Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth that has been kindly furnished by the General Store at Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth. How fun is that?

Don't you wish you had a game of Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth? Well, you can win one right here at Highlowaha! They sent us two travels size games! Now that is fun.

How do you win? Submit your favorite idea from 2008 and be entered into a drawing!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, March 30, 2009

March Madness - Final Round

Happy Monday, everybody. Cheryl here to present the final round for Highlowaha's very own March Madness. We started out with 8 teams and the two final competitors are the California Golden Girls and the Texas Tidbits. The competitions have been fierce! How did these two teams get here?

The California Golden Girl's Animoto idea started by running over the Derby City Darling's Shutterfly books- both great ideas. The Texas Tidbits HungryGirl.com ate up the Clevelands Creative's GoogleText. Both teams moved to the second round with more great ideas.

California Golden Girl's showed us how to make our flashdrives cuter than a rubber duck by squeaking out the win over the Iowa Big Idea Babe's Elf on the Shelf. Texas Tidbit's Frownies just barely defeated Wisconsin Cheese Hen's photo purse. Tough competitions, all of them. And today is no different!

Let's get ready to rrruuuummmmmbbbllee!!!

Today the battle comes down to big idea #3:

You can buy original art from students at half the price of what you would normally pay. You can shop by price, size, medium, etc. and you can even view the piece in a room! It’s a really cool way to start your own collection.


Wine Bottle and Gift Tag
Have you run out of unique gift ideas for dinner parties and/or housewarming gatherings? Well this is your opportunity to personalize that wine bottle that you would typically give to someone during those occasions. By just simply adding a one of a kind recipe card to the wine bottle you will create a gift that family and friends will enjoy and remember. Not only will they receive a great bottle of wine but they will also receive an excellent dinner idea. You may decorate your card as you desire, remember this is your opportunity to create a distinct recipe card.

So what's it going to be Idea Fans? Place your vote in the comment section for Art or Wine. Voting closes at 7pm CST.

Gift of 218: If you know of someone who needs the Gift of 218 please email us their story to highlowaha218@gmail.com.

Signing off until tomorrow... and the announcement of the Big Winner of March Madness!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sharing Saturday

Can you hear me galloping in? Howdy, y'all! Cheryl here to wrap up our week. Whew! Sorry I'm late this morning!

Congratulations to the California Golden Girls and the Texas Tidbits for their victories in our very own Highlowaha March Madness. Be sure to join us on Monday for the Finals. In honor of Women's History Month we each shared a creative woman that has influenced our life. It was great fun getting to know them. Today we will wrap up our last day of Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth, a fun game that has a deck of cards with probing questions about Sex & Body, History & Experience, Family & Friends, Spirit, Shadow, and Taste. We've had a fun month sharing the game with you and expanding our knowledge of each other.

If you're new today, Heather, Claudia and Katie have discussed how you can use the game in many settings. Any women's group, family gathering, baby shower, wedding shower, girl's night out and the list goes on. Any time you want to learn more about the women around you, this game will help your new or old friends and family to share life experiences and beliefs. Have a party, mail the cards out, start a note on Facebook or start you're own email survey to share with your girlfriends. Whatever your preference, fun is sure to be had.

I can't help but wonder, would the questions work with men, too?

Here are the questions on my card:
* When did I experience “love at first sight”?
* Tell something about my hobby.
* How was my relationship five years ago? How is it now?
* Tell one thing about my future.
* How do I waste time?
* Am I a shopper? What do I buy?

Since this journey began, I'll be driving down the road and the Brooks and Dunn's song will come on the radio and I can't help but to think of our own Ride on the Trail of Truth. No matter where you are on your journey as long as you are part of our journey here at Highlowaha know you have someone that cares.

Happy Trails!

Signing of until Monday... and the finals of March Madness.

Friday, March 27, 2009

March Madness: Texas Wins By A Tidbit

Free For All Friday question at the end...

Good morning, Highlowaha! It's Katie here again bringing you the results from yesterday's semifinal match-up between the Wisconsin Cheese Hens and the Texas Tidbits. The crowd was truly split yesterday on which idea was the most creative or valuable, but the Texas Tidbits pulled out the win by a very close margin! This means they will advance to the finals of March Madness next week. As a result, we say farewell to the Wisconsin Cheese Hens by sharing their remaining ideas, products, websites, etc. with all of you.

Pudgie Pie Camping Dinner- Iron Chef Edition
Each summer the hens and their families go camping and on Saturday evening, we cook pudgie pies-aka tonka pies, aka- pies with a pie iron. Any way- we use a pie iron and use bread or a bread substitute (tortilla, etc). Once it's filled the iron is placed into the campfire and cooked to perfection. Each family is assigned to bring a secret ingredient and then the families go to town creating the most inventive and tasty treat possible. We have a blast concocting creations- ingredients have included crab, guacamole, blueberry jam, chipolte, and pineapple!

Social Networking Sites
We can personally attest to how helpful sites like facebook, linked in and twitter have been in helping us reconnect with old friends -CLAUDIA! They are also a great way to professionally network.

Studying Technique- let your kids test you!
For those with school aged children who need assistance studying for tests: Have them create a test for you and let them grade it. Through the development and grading process they learn more than rote memorization and it has proven to be quite successful!

Thank you to the Wisconsin Cheese Hens for their participation in March Madness! Your ideas have helped to enhance our community and we have enjoyed having you around! Best of luck to the Texas Tidbits on Monday versus the California Golden Girls!

Free For All Friday
As mentioned above, since today is Friday, we do have a Free For All question for you this week! On February 23, 2009 we introduced our new service project, the Gift of 218, to our community. The "Gift of 218" coordinated fundraising efforts to provide an experience for a family that might not otherwise be able to afford it. We spent that day raising money for the project and just a few days later we were well on our way to providing our first experience or memory to a family in Louisville, Kentucky.

We are now in search of more stories and nominations of families in need throughout the country. Claudia, Cheryl, Heather and I have brainstormed some possible a way to begin collecting these stories. Our idea is to create a blurb of text that we will place in a number of places to gain exposure and encourage others to nominate a family in need. We have discussed placing this text in church bulletins, PTA newsletters, sharing it with the Big Brothers Big Sisters, Salvation Army and Boys & Girls Club organizations. Now, we are in need of more ideas!!! What suggestions/ideas do you have of other places we could share our text with in the hopes of gaining stories of families in need? Let us hear it in the comment section!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Madness: Round 2

Good morning, Highlowaha! It's Katie here today to bring you another match-up in our March Madness competition! March Madness is a month-long competition we are hosting among eight teams from across the country. Each team is composed of 5 or more fierce competitors and they met to develop a line-up of their most creative ideas, products, websites, recipes, etc from the past year. Beginning two weeks ago, these teams were pitted against one another and the competition began. After the opening round, the competition was narrowed down to four remaining teams.

The first two of these four teams competed earlier this week and the California Golden Girls came away with the victory and moved on to the finals. Today, we are gathering together for the match between the final two of four teams. Our competitors today are the Texas Tidbits vs. the Wisconsin Cheese Hens. I will share the number 2 idea from their line-ups and you the readers will vote on a winner. So, let's get to it!

The Photo Purse
This is either a 8x10 or 5x7 black purse with clear plastic sides to insert a photo. This is a great idea for displaying photos of your children, pets, a favorite landscape, flowers- the sky is the limit. This idea was introduced to our team by Hen Christine who actually markets these to local boutiques, etc. The photos show an example of photos of children- this was a mother's day gift to myself and also a gift to a mother-in-law. We can honestly say that we got stopped constantly by people commenting on how cute it is!


We love "Frownies"!! We can't afford Botox (nor would we get it, too scared!), but we want to look young and worry free, so we swear by these. Plus all the movie stars love them. You just wet them and wear them on your "trouble" spots to help retrain your facial muscles for a more relaxed, carefree look. You no longer have to put up with those pesky furrow forehead lines or those tiny #11 lines between your eyes. Check out the website for all the details. http://www.frownies.com

How to Vote
Vote for the idea you consider most winning by simply making a post in today's comment section, indicating either "Purse" or "Frownies". Votes must be cast by 7:00 p.m. CST.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Art of The Dash

What do marbling paper, tombstone rubbings, dog show photography, handmade wedding invitations, and the Creative Hands Art Studio all have in common?

They represent a SAMPLING of Sherry Aikman's creative outlets.  

Claudia here today bringing you the fourth of our four-part Women Who Inspire Us Wednesday Series, in honor of Women's History Month.  I'd like to say we saved the best for last, but that wouldn't do justice to the impressive Aunt Cynthia, Grandma McDaniel, or Katie's former boss, Shingi.  Let's just say, I'm no slouch and I upheld my end of the bargain by bringing you the Amazing Sherry Aikman.

First a quick rundown on how I know Sherry and then an overview of some of her many accomplishments.

Sherry and I met while I was working at Southern Methodist University in the mid-90s.  She was tucked away in her corner of campus cranking out some of the most amazing graphic work I'd ever laid eyes on.  She could take anything and make it look like a million bucks.  And for someone who ascribes to the belief that, "packaging is everything," her talent did not escape me.  

Before long, I had Sherry designing every stitch of paper that came out of my office.  If I'm being honest, I actually dreamt up creative projects for Sherry to work on just so I could have an excuse to be around her.  We were a dream team.  I dreamt it and she turned my ideas into reality.  Every where I moved Sherry moved with me - at least by email.  When I moved to Georgia I still had her designing brochures.  When I moved to Kentucky I had her busy creating logos, t-shirt designs, and since moving back to Texas I have tried roping her into as much HLA fun as possible. 

She's done a couple favorites for me.  First was the handmade wedding invitations she made for for Richard and me.  Here's proof of how remarkable they were.  Richard and I had a total of 45 people at our wedding (people, not couples).  Of those 45 people,  seven guests gave us framed copies of our invitation.  If that isn't commentary on what a beautiful piece of art her invitation was,  I don't know what is!  

The other favorite was an invitation to my graduation reception.  Every letter of every word of every page of my dissertation was written on the top floor of Starbucks in Athens, Georgia.  So connected to the Starbucks staff was I that they agreed to shut down the top floor so I could host a reception of family and friends.  I sent Sherry a black and white photo of me and she, in turn, sent back (from Texas) the most beautiful invitations made of earthy colors, a touch of green, and lots and lots paper layers.  The invitations were nothing short of works of art.  She capped the whole thing off by sliding each invitation into a cleverly cut Starbucks pastry bag - made to look like a vellum sleeve.

But Sherry's career as an artist is far more esteemed than hand making one-of-a-kind invitations for me.  As noted in the opening, Sherry has dabbled in everything from marbling paper; paper weaving; rubbing tombstone faces to show their unique textures; photographing statuaries; photographing dogs at dog shows; and recently traveling to places such as Poland, Germany, Belgium, and Argentina to photograph (and video) past and present assaults on human rights.  So versatile is Sherry, that she admits her other passion was her short stint running a kids art studio in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Sherry embodies everything I love about people born with the gift of artistry.  She has an amazing eye for color and texture (and other important principles of art that I couldn't even begin to have a clue about) AND... she is generous beyond measure with her gifts.  She finds a way to pitch in and help with any request made of her and everything she produces looks like it had her blood, sweat, and tears poured into it!

My intent initially was to share a template Sherry gave me years back that could be used to make a small treat box.  Somewhere in my move I lost the template and Sherry couldn't put her hands on another copy in time for today's post.  I have faith I will get another copy and when I do, I will pass it along to any interested readers (hopefully in time for Easter).  In the meantime, I thought we could celebrate Sherry today by sharing excerpts of a poem called, "The Dash" by Linda Ellison.

Let there be no misunderstanding... Sherry has never been more full of life and verve than she is right this very minute.  It is her intrigue with tombstone rubbings, photographing statuaries, and the way she lives her life, that made this seem relevant.

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning... to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

So when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they
say about how you spend your dash?

Sherry is my pick for a woman who inspires me and my creativity, in large part because of the way she lives her dash.  By virtue of sharing her creativity, Sherry profoundly touches the lives of people around her.  Sometimes it's by creating a handmade invitation so beautiful and so notable that it literally redefines the occasion.  Other times, when applying her creativity to matters as important as human rights, her work gives voice to those who otherwise don't have one.  

If my dash can be half as long and half as bold as Sherry's will be, I will render my time here on earth meaningful.  How about you?  Who do you know with a dash so inspiring you want to tell us about him or her?

Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March Madness: California Goes For The Gold

Good morning, Highlowaha! It's Katie here welcoming you back for another day of March Madness. Yesterday we had a great turn out for the first match-up of our semifinal round. We had a total of 37 votes cast! After a close competition all day long, the California Golden Girls won by a 5 point margin. As a result, they will be going for the gold next week in the finals. Unfortunately, this now means we must say goodbye to Iowa's Big Idea Babes. Today I will share with you their remaining three ideas, products, websites, recipes, etc.

1. Personalized Onesie Wardrobe for Baby
At a baby shower I co-hosted last year, we requested that all attendees bring a onesie that they had decorated themselves to their taste. When they arrived at the shower, they placed the onesie in a basket by the door. The mommy-to-be then had to guess who had decorated each onesie. It was amazing how creative and fun each attendee was in their decorating, and of course the baby-to-be had a wardrobe of onesies created by loved ones. Later, each of the attendees received a photo of the baby wearing their creation.

2. Home Art Gallery
My daughter started preschool this year, and now we have a barrage of art projects and drawings. I have struggled with what to keep, display or toss. I have finally decided to dedicate one wall in our home as the "Miller Family Art Gallery." (http://partyplansplus.com/davinci.htm) I bought several Lil' DaVinci Frames that are made specifically for displaying children's art (front opens like a cabinet to insert new pictures). They display the pictures beautifully, my daughter gets to take pride in choosing the artwork, and the front of my refrigerator is no longer a mess!

3. Easy, Peasy, Freezy Pie!
Chilly Peanut Butter Pie recipe- easy and delicious!

1 8 oz. carton Cool Whip
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
1/2 cup strawberry jelly or jam
1 cup cold milk
1 3.4 oz instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup peanut butter

Spread 1 cup Cool Whip over bottom of pie crust. Drop jelly (after stirring to make smooth) by tablespoonfuls onto topping; spread carefully. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix until thickened. Add peanut butter; mix well. Fold in the remaining Cool Whip and spread over jelly. Cover and freeze for 4 hours. Thaw for 10 minutes before serving.

Thanks to the Iowa Big Idea Babes for their participation in March Madness! Thank you for sharing your creativity with all of us. We hope you will stick around and remain part of our community. Congrats to California- you'll be up again next week in the finals!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, March 23, 2009

March Madness: Round 2

Good morning, Highlowaha! It's Katie here, ready to begin Round 2 of our Highlowaha March Madness. As some of you may remember, two weeks ago we began our own version of March Madness in which eight teams competed by sharing their most creative ideas, products, websites, resources, recipes, and more. These eight teams met at center curt and four of them advanced to the semi-finals and will face off this week! This week we will pull back out their playbooks and share their number 2 idea. We, the spectators, will vote on the day's M.V.P...or as the case may be, M.V.I. The winning teams will then advance to next week's championship game!

Today it will be the California Golden Girls vs. Iowa's Big Idea Babes. Remember that YOUR vote determines which team advances. We had a tremendous turn-out for the two previous weeks of voting, and I hope the crowds will fill the stands again today! Without further ado, here we go!

Flash Drive

Put the flash back in your flash drive!
Who says saving documents has to be boring? In a matter of minutes you can flash up your flash drive with something as simple as a finger puppet! These creative and easy to make flash drives are an affordable and fun gift for friends, family or coworkers!
Small Flash Drive
Small Plastic Finger Puppet (can be purchased at most party or craft stores)
Easy-Mix Resin (can be purchased at most craft stores)
Pop outside cover off of flash drive.
Carefully hold flash drive in finger hole of puppet.
Pour resin into finger hole.
Hold carefully until resin is set.


Elf on the Shelf

This adorable book and toy combination became a new family tradition this Christmas. The book tells the story of an Elf who comes to live in your home in December. The Elf watches over your children to see if they are being naughty or nice and reports back to Santa on their progress. Everyday the Elf hides in a new place and the children search for him. A great way to encourage good behavior and build excitement for Christmas!

How to Vote:
Vote for the idea you consider most winning by simply making a post in today's comment section, indicating either "Flash" or "Elf". Votes must be cast by 7:00 p.m. CST.


Women Who Take The Cake: After tallying the votes from Friday, it has been determined that there is a tie between Molly and Hannah. We have made the decision to honor both of them by sending each of them a cake! Thank you for your nominations of the women who Take the Cake and for voting on Friday!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sharing Saturday

Good morning, Highlowaha! It's Katie here for another Sharing Saturday of questions from the game, "Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth." As some of you may remember, Claudia attended Misty's Annual Potato Soup Party where she played this game with other guests at the party. The game asks of series of questions around the topics of Sex & Body, History & Experience, Family & Friends, Spirit, Shadow, and Taste. Each Saturday this month we have taken a card from this game and posed the questions to you the readers, but we have also given you a suggestion of a way to incorporate the game into your life. This Saturday will be no different, so let's get started!

During my Spring Break last week, I took some time to travel home to Kentucky to visit friends and family. During my trip home, I spent a few hours visiting my grandparents at their house. It reminded me that I have a lot to learn from their life experiences and that great lessons can be learned from their journey in life. That was when it hit me. What if you were to use the questions from the game to create a capsule of the memories and stories of the women in your family?

Here is how I picture it happening. Plan an afternoon to gather all the women in your family: grandmothers, mothers, daughters, nieces, aunts, etc. at your house. Each woman in the family is to bring 2-3 pictures of themselves from throughout their life. Upon arrival, each woman draws a card from the deck and is therefore given a set of questions that they are to answer. During the next hour, they are to create a page for a scrapbook (you would provide paper, markers, stickers, etc.) using their pictures and answering the questions on their card. In many ways, it becomes an outlet for them to share stories about themselves. At the end of the hour, each woman in the family will add their page to the keepsake book. The beauty is that it does not have to be anything fancy like a scrapbook. Its beauty is in the pictures and the stories told by the women of your family. It becomes an immediate keepsake for the family to commemorate the women who keep it thriving. For granddaughters like me who know they have so much to learn from their grandmothers and aunts, it becomes a way to acquire these lessons in life.

For me, I now have hopes of trying to make this happen in the days before my brother's wedding this summer. (Call me crazy?) Until then, though, I'd like to take today to get to know a little bit more about each of you by posing some questions from the Cowgirl game. You can choose one question that you are interested in answering or you can feel free to answer them all. No matter what you choose, we hope you will share a piece of yourself with our community today.
  • Who influenced me in the way I deal with relationships?
  • How do I characterize myself?
  • Tell a story about my favorite pet.
  • What would I do if I knew I wouldn't fail?
  • In what way am I a martyr?
  • Do I do my own housework? How do I feel about it?
Signing off until Monday...

Friday, March 20, 2009

She Who Bakes The Cake and She Who Takes the Cake!

Since the Cheese Hens ran away with the win yesterday today we will depart from March Madness to feature one of my favorite things...cake!

She Who Bakes the Cake
I am lucky enough to know a fantastic woman named Kate Danko. Kate and I attended high school together and now she lives in Fort Bragg, North Carolina with her husband and handsome twin two-year-olds Connor and Brandon. Kate's husband is in the military and he has spent 17 months of the past 25 months away from the family which has left Kate to handle raising her precious boys alone. What I've come to love about Kate is that she doesn't let the stress of having twin toddlers keep her from being creative and she is most creative when it comes to food. You'll have to check out her blog dankofamilyscoop.blogspot.com to see the full scope of her yummy food creations because today I'm only focusing on her cakes.

You see, Kate has photographed some cakes she has made and they are Amazing (with a capital A). With no formal training, a little fondant and a lot of creativity she manages to pull together cakes that are worthy of the Food Network. As you can see from these pictures Kate would fit right in with our group of women.

Crying Baby for a baby shower

Train Cake for Brandon and Connor's 2nd Birthday (Note the second picture which shows how she shaped the cake out of rice krispy treats to accomodate Brandon's food allergies).

And her talent doesn't end with baking cakes...she made this awesome diaper cake for a friend's baby shower.

She Who Takes the Cake
While I could certainly argue that Kate takes the cake that is a title that has been left up to YOU the readers of highlowaha. For the past several weeks we have had the nomination lines open for you to submit the name of a woman in your life who "Takes the Cake" to be honored by highlowaha. The competition was STIFF, you all came through with touching nominations of amazing women in your life. The HLA creative team had the difficult task of narrowing the field down to three finalists and from here it is up to you. In today's comment section please vote for one of the following three finalists:

Lisa Van Wallaghen
I nominate Lisa Van Wallaghen, my coworker and dear friend for the Takes the Cake Award! Lisa has only been working with me for about 8 months, and I already could not live without her! I have never met someone as selfless, genuine, passionate, and compassionate as she is. Lisa is a very empathetic person, and she cries all the time - at happy things, at sad things...just as an example, she cries at school events (like pep rallie - total fun days!) when she thinks about what a great school this is and what an amazing opportunity it is for all of the girls who go to school here, knowing that she gets to share that opportunity with families every day. She is a hard worker, who takes her job very personally, takes things home with her, thinks about new ways of doing things (at home in the shower!)...she is always willing and ready to go the extra mile and she makes my job so much easier. I can always depend on her to do things, and do them with a big smile. Outside of work, Lisa is completely dedicated to her kids (2 in college and 1 a high school freshman). They respect her, but also think of her as a best friend - it is evident as they call her to report all of their successes, as well as calls for guidance. I have truly never known someone so genuine. Lisa never says things just to fill the silence. She is thoughtful, positive, and encouraging. It is easy to see the glass as half full when Lisa is part of the discussion. In other words, I know of no one more deserving, no one more content to stay out of the limelight or take credit for all she does, no one who TAKES THE CAKE quite like Lisa!!!

Hannah Clayborne
I’m nominating Hannah Clayborne as a woman who takes the cake. From the time Hannah arrived at Bellarmine it was obvious that she was truly dedicated to try to make a difference on campus. Hannah works long and hard to make an impact on students’ lives each day that she comes to work. Despite working in a situation where her job is an uphill climb, (bringing multicultural competence to a campus that is historically filled with middle class, white, traditional aged students) she never lets on that she struggles or faces challenges. Hannah managed to get a group of students from Bellarmine to the Inauguration this January which I think is testament to the work she is doing. I can attest to the fact that Hannah impacted my work as a student affairs professional and I’m certain she has impacted many others during her time in the field. So you see, Hannah Clayborne really does take the cake and she deserves some recognition.

Molly Shotzberger
I would like to nominate my mom. Her name is Molly Shotzberger. She has been there for so many people throughout the years. She was at 9/11, down at the towers from day one and she did not leave until everyone else left. She must have spent 4 months there helping and caring for people. She has also gone to Iraq to help the people there. She went a year after the US sent troops in. She has been at most disasters in the US for the past 8 or 9 years. The most important thing that I think she did was put her life on hold to help my family. When I had cancer, she came and took care of myself and my children. I can never express to her how important that was to me. This is why I feel she deserves a cake.


HLA T-shirt Winner:
Each month we engage in reflection as a community on our high, low and aha. Each member who submits their personal reflection is entered for a chance to win their own Ray Wattson t-shirt. This month's winner is B.K. Root! Congratulations Brian...please take a chance to look at the GalleRAY and decide which Ray you would like on your very own t-shirt. Then send an email to highlowaha218@gmail.com letting us know which Ray you want and what size shirt to order for you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

And the Cheese Hens Run Away With It!

Welcome back to HLA and another round of March Madness! This is our final round of a creative version of March Madness which pits teams from across the country against one another to determine the best creative idea/website/item from the past year.

Today's team the Wisconsin Cheese Hens run away with the win because the team they were pitted against heard that they had such a grand idea that they forfeited the competition.So it is on to Round 2 which starts next week for the Cheese Hens but not without sharing their great idea with all of you:

The Cheese Hens are a group of lifelong friends that have all been friends for over 3/4 of their lives and then some! They started out as 8 women and today when their group gathers, they are 14 adults and 16 kids!
They chose their number one idea because they all turned 40 last year, and this was by far the MOST FUN and their hands down favorite of 2008:

Deb's Running Over the Hill Party
Deb has loved running since she was in middle school, so she and her husband Ronn decided the theme of her 40th would revolve around running- a natural choice. We were all invited to participate in a 40 hectometer (about 2 1/2miles) prediction run/walk and there was also a 40 meter dash for the kids. When we arrived we are all given race numbers as our name tags and it also described how we knew Deb. The winner of the race had the time closest to his prediction and he won a running jacket. Prizes were given to the top five predictors as well as door prizes. Over 100 people came to help Deb celebrate in this totally fun way. In lieu of gifts we were asked to make a donation to Special Olympics which tied into Deb's love of running and children (she's a teacher and an incredible MOM!). Over $400 was raised. This was held in June at a nearby park and a picnic followed. This was truly a blast!

You see...not only is this idea a fantastically creative way to celebrate your birthday but clearly the Cheese Hens embrace the Spirit of 218! Way to go Cheese Hens and we look forward to seeing you in the Semi-final round of competition.


Take the Cake: Thanks for all your nominations...we'll post the finalists tomorrow for your voting as we attempt to determine what woman truly takes the cake.

Getting to Know You: One of the things that makes highlowaha so special is the community we have created across the country. Part of community is getting to know one another. So...if you have the chance to get together with another HLA community member snap a picture and send it our way highlowaha218@gmail.com ...we'd love to post pictures of you (or your children) as you meet in person (even if you already know one another). I'll start by sharing these fun picture of Claudia's Jack and Matthew and my Lily from the park last night...it was so beautiful here in Dallas that we spent the evening after work letting the kids eat at the park and then play.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women's History Wednesday

Good morning from Virginia! Katie here welcoming you back for another Women's History Wednesday. As some of you know, we are spending each Wednesday during the month of March honoring a woman in our lives who has inspired us creatively. Cheryl started us off this month sharing the story of her aunt who taught her about Zentangles and last week Heather shared the story of her mother's creative ideas surrounding children. It is my pleasure this week to share with you the inspiration behind my work as a supervisor of undergraduate college students.

When I was an undergraduate at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky I had the pleasure of being a resident advisor in a freshman residence hall where I worked/lived on a floor with 40 female freshman students. My supervisor was the Hall Director, Shingi Nyamwanza. Three years later, now that I am a Hall Director in a residence hall, I find myself referring back to many ideas and tactics that Shingi used with us. The best thing about these ideas are their ability to be applied in a variety of arenas. This might include your work/role as a supervisor, Girl Scout troop leader, mother, sports coach, or PTA member.

1. The Accountability Jar. I'm not sure if this is what Shingi called it, but that's what I'm going to call it for today. This was a jar in which Shingi had each of us take a slip of paper and on it we were to write one duty or "chore" that we would like someone else on staff to complete for us on one side and our name on the other. Then we put all the slips of paper into the jar, and it stayed in her office. If someone was late to a staff meeting they had to pull a slip of paper from this jar and then complete this task for the person who wrote it. It was her creative way of keeping us accountable.

2. The High 5 Award. This is an idea that I have implemented with my staff this year. Each week, a different RA on staff would be awarded the High 5 Award. It was an outline of a hand on a piece of paper. On each of the fingers there was a different reason listed as to why that staff member had made a difference in the building that week. Some reasons might include: covering a night of sitting desk duty, helping with a roommate conflict, putting on a great program, etc. If I was the recipient during week 1, I was then responsible for giving the award to another staff member during week 2. I love this idea because it was not awarded by the supervisor, but instead it is awarded among equal members of the staff. I also love it because it is very inexpensive but can be very meaningful!

Thank you to Shingi for the impact she has made on my life. Hopefully she will check in with us today and make a post!

Before we close out for the day, we have one thing left to cover....Highs, Lows, and Ahas! As is our tradition here at Highlowaha, I ask that each of you take some time to share your High (best thing), Low (worst thing), and Aha (something you learned) from the past month in the comment section today. Beginning this new year on Highlowaha, we are going to add a new component to our tradition on these days. As we stated at the beginning of the new year, we would like to invite each of you to take a seat with us at the table each day to share in the creativity of this community. In keeping with this goal, we would like to invite one of you to join us each month to share your High, Low, and Aha within the post for the day. This individual will be randomly selected through the postcards in the Random Acts of Kindness box. (Not sure what I'm referring to? Check the post from 2/24) Each month on the 18th, we will draw a card from the box and this person will be our special guest for the following month. So, later today we will pull a name to be our guest for April! If you still need to get your postcard in the box, send it off in the mail to the following address:
Claudia Beeny
4012 Harvestwood Ct
Grapevine, TX 76051

For the month of March, we have invited Shingi to be the guest at our table and she has shared her High, Low, and Aha with me so I can post it here for all of you to see.

High - Spring is almost here! I love DC in the springtime :-)
Low - One of my closest girlfriends got laid off - I feel so helpless.
Aha - (so many this past month)- Life is all about building relationships. Its more about who you know not what you know... ( Sad but true. I could argue that that's also my low)

Don't forget to share yours with us in the comment section so that you can go into the hat to win a Highlowaha t-shirt with your favorite Ray on it!


Shamrock Shakes: Below are Claudia, Cheryl, and their boys enjoying some traditional Shamrock Shakes at the Beeny household on St. Patty's Day! Take special note of the McDonald's straws. As we know (via Claudia) all shakes are better when had through a McDonald's straw.
: Don't forget today is the last day to submit recipes to Tera for the first ever HLA cookbook. Email them to tmichalski05@jcu.edu.

Women who Take the Cake: Don't forget about this easy way to honor a woman in your life. Send nominations by 5pm today to highlowaha218@gmail.com. Send a paragraph of 200 words or less describing why this woman "takes the cake". The woman we choose will be presented a cake on your behalf.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Wishing you Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Ohhhh, my hat. Look how far away my hat is. Someone get my hat. Whoa, green beer. I've got my beer goggles on and hey......look what I see.

Hey baby you're looking good. Is that a green martini? That's cool. I had a green bagel for breakfast. Where are you from?

Ohio? Cut it out. I'm from Texas. Are you following March Madness? Well. You know what they say...... Don't mess with Texas.

You're not going to win.. I'll tell you what. If Ohio wins, I'll take you to dinner and drink one of those silly green martinis. If Texas wins, you have to pick up the tab and my hat.

Bust out your laptop, I'm getting hungry.

Don't Mess with Texas!

It's Tuesday and it's Heather here with a great dose of March Madness!

Yesterday was another great preliminary round which ended with Texas Tidbits proving why you don't want to mess with Texas. Turns out we are a bunch of hungrygirl.com fans here at highlowaha and Texas Tidbits easily advanced to the next round of play. We'll see them again next week with their 2nd creative idea.

Today however, we recognize the fact that Cleveland's Creatives had a playbook filled with awesome ideas that are sure to be appreciated by our readers. So here are Tera and Treye and their
gang of friends with the remainder of their playbook:
  1. Are your favorite websites saved on your computer at home? Of course they are! But what happens when you need to access one of those sites when you’re away from home? Now you can save your favorites and access them from any computer. Portaportal (kinda like porta potty) is an easy-to-use web based bookmarking utility that lets you store links to your favorite websites online. Best of all, it’s free! http://www.portaportal.com/
  2. You’ve all seen a white board before, right? And you’ve all used a computer, right? Well now you can get the combination of both in one great product…the SMART Board. The SMART Board is an interactive, electronic whiteboard which can enhance instruction and learning. The SMART Notebook software makes it possible for teachers to create content rich, dynamic lessons which address specific student skills. The touch-sensitive display connects to your computer and digital projector to show your computer image. You can then control computer applications directly from the display, write notes in digital ink and save your work to share later.
  3. Is your phone bill through the roof? Are you sick of going over your cell phone minutes every month? Then check out Skype. With this online service, you can call other people on Skype for free and call land lines and cell phones at low rates. It’s so easy Oprah can use it (she often talks to home viewers during her show)!
  4. 5% cash back from Discover Card. Every month, you earn 5% cash back in various, everyday spending, categories. For example, right now you can earn 5% back on airlines, hotels, car rentals and cruises. In April you earn money back at clothing stores and home improvement stores. Heck, if you’re got to buy it, you might as well get some money back for doing it!
  5. Are you engaged to be married? Check out The Knot. Two couples in our group got married last summer and one will be married next summer. None of us could have survived with out this website www.theknot.com. It has all of the wedding planning tools you need from an online guest list tracker to helpful hints and don’t-forget-to-dos. It’s very user friendly!
So there you have it...five more creative ideas that Cleveland's Creatives couldn't live without. Which one is your favorite?


Take the Cake: Don't forget this is a fun, free way to honor a woman who truly does take the cake. Send your nominations no later than this Wednesday, March 18th via email to highlowaha218@gmail.com. Remember all we need is a short paragraph explaining who you'd like to nominate and why.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Madness Monday

Good Monday Morning Highlowaha! It's Heather here with another round of March Madness.

Selection Sunday has occurred and we all know if our team made the tournament. All the sports fanatics are gearing up for the first weekend of March Madness and meanwhile here at highlowaha we are engaged in our second week of March Madness tournament action pitting creative teams against one another for the hottest creative ideas of the past year. Last week we saw Team Iowa and Team California breeze through to the second round of the tournament.
This week will determine what two other teams will make their way to the semi-finals.

Over the month of March these eight teams will put their most creative ideas, products, websites, resources, recipes, and more on center court. While each team has a winning line-up of ideas, they are only allowed to present one star idea at a time. We, the spectators, then get to vote on that day's M.V.P... or as the case may be, M.V.I. The team with the winning idea then advances to the next round of play. So it goes until Monday, March 30 when we face off for the championship game.

emember that YOUR vote determines which team advances. We had a great round of voting last Thursday and I'd love to see that same energy as we decide who moves on today. Will it be
Cleveland's Creatives or Texas Tidbits?

Google Text
Have you ever called Directory Assistance (411) to get a phone number or address? That cost big bucks every time you press those three little numbers. There’s a new number in town that will get you the same results, but it’s free! Are you looking for the phone number or address of Ben & Jerry’s in Arlington, Texas?
Use Google Text! Simply send a text message with the name of the business you’re searching for followed by the city and state to 466453 (GOOGLE) and you’ll get a text message with a reply. Go ahead, try it…we know you want to! Best of all, it’s free (or the cost of texting if you don’t have it in your phone plan).


Hungrygirl.com is a really cute web site for us hungry girls. The founder has a cookbook, and she has a FREE daily email newsletter, with great tips and diet tricks. EVERYONE should subscribe to it! She gives great substitutions, and has re-worked many recipes. She is also getting ready to come out with a new cookbook of 200 under 200. 200 recipes under 200 calories each.

Some examples of her wonderful recipes, most of which are single portions, are:

FAKE FRENCH FRIES – made out of butternut squash baked on a cookie sheet

ALFREDO SAUCE – made with laughing cow cheese

PIZZA – cute individual pizzas made with a crust made of crushed up Fiber One Cereal and some egg beaters made into a flat crust browned in a small skillet. Add toppings and voila!

How to Vote: Simply go into the comments section and enter googletext or hungrygirl.com, voting closes at 7pm CST.


Follow the Rainbow: Have you sent your rainbow to Surprise, AZ for our Suprise, Surprise stunt? If not you probably have time if you get it in the mail today. Don't forget this is a patch yielding event AND you'll have the chance to win an awesome prize along with it. Just drop any kind of homemade rainbow in the mail to Julie Schnepp 16630 N. Reems Rd. #1064 Surprise, AZ 85374

Take the Cake: The picture you see to the right comes courtesy of a fantastic highlowaha reader in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately it is the only nomination we've received for the Woman who takes the cake award. So...don't forget this is a fun, free way to honor a woman who truly does take the cake. Send your nominations no later than this Wednesday, March 18th via email to highlowaha218@gmail.com. We can't let Claudia win or she'll be baking a cake for herself.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Leprechauns and Cowgirls

Change in plans. Katie was nice enough to let me (Claudia) steal this day from her. She gets that when your blog is about creativity and a creative idea comes up, you have to be flexible enough to go with it. That's what we're going to do today. We're going to follow the creative energy of Children's Courtyard in Grapevine, Texas. Stay with me if you're if you're still looking for an award winning St. Patrick's Day idea to use with your kids, neighbors, students, residents, family, or friends. I think you'll be impressed.

No worries for those of you who were not ready to switch gears for the originally scheduled Women's History Month programing. We will still feature questions for you to answer from the game, "Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth." It's the perfect way to join in community and to continue getting to know one another.

First, St. Patrick's Day. Yesterday morning I walked into school and immediately noticed this box sitting on the counter in Jack's classroom. Immediately drawn to anything that sparkles, I asked Ms. Psasha what the box was all about. She explained that the decorated box was a "Leprechaun Catcher" and that every classroom was making one. St. Patrick's Day is less than a week away and Children's Courtyard wasn't going to leave leprechaun catching up to the Luck-o-the-Irish. Instead, each classroom put on their creative caps and dreamt up exactly what they thought it would take to catch themselves a magical leprechaun and his pot of gold. To me this activity is brilliant - not only because it fosters creativity, but also because it helps to build a sense of excitement around this simple holiday. Check them out and tell me if you have a favorite leprechaun catcher?

This is a great weekend activity for just about any group of kids (young and old).

Now the questions...

Last week Heather laid the ground work for each of our Saturday posts in March. She explained that, in January when I attend Misty's Annual Potato Soup party, I became acquainted with the game, "Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth." The game comes with a box of thought provoking questions in the following categories: Sex & Body, History & Experience, Family & Friends, Spirit, Shadow, and Taste.

Today I will share a card of six questions, allowing you to pick your favorite question and to share your answer with the rest of us. If questions such as these can be used to help us get to know one another better, then imagine how much fun you could have asking them of your closest girlfriends. Consider planning a coffee, brunch, or lunch with your friends and letting these questions be your guest of honor. Or, what about mailing each of your girlfriends one question in a envelope with a self-addressed stamped envelope (do it on one of Peggy's great looking cards and score extra points) with the hopes they will mail their reply? What a fun way to honor the women in your life during the month of March AND to maybe learn something new about them!

Here are today's questions. Tune in next weekend when Katie actually gets the chance to serve as hostess (without being usurped by me) and presents you with another set of questions:
  • How do I feel about getting older?
  • Who is the most influential person I know?
  • How do I feel when I hear a man praise his wife?
  • If I could be invisible for a day, I would hang out at...
  • When did I maintain a disguise?
  • If I found out I had a life-threatening disease, who would I tell first?
You've got all weekend to answer! Answer one or answer them all.

Signing off until Monday...

Friday, March 13, 2009

March Madness: California Coast

Congratulations to the California Golden Girls who will be coasting right into Highlowaha's March Madness Semi Finals. Yesterday was a picture perfect day with close to 60 people voting on the next best way to preserve our favorite photos - Animoto videos or Shutterfly's Photo Books. In the end the newer... and "free-er" Animoto won out (my dad would cringe at my use of a non-word).

Special thanks to the Derby City Darlings, who under Melanie's leadership put together a formidable line-up of creative ideas. Today we will peek inside the play book of the Derby City Darlings to see what else they had up their sleeves. Since it's Friday, we will also Free For All about other topics of interest.

Idea #2
Bottle/Sippy Cup Bands: You know those rubber “LiveStrong” bracelets that became oh-so popular a few years ago – it seemed like every cause had a different band for a while there and some people are still wearing them. Well some ingenious mother came up with the idea to create a similar product that fits around a child’s bottle or sippy cup with the child’s name. The band is dishwasher & microwave safe, won’t wear off like permanent marker or adhesive labels, and, can be used again and again on whatever bottle/cup is needed that day. I know of several church nursery helpers who are singing the praises of this product! http://www.littlepiddles.com/custombumpyname.html

Idea #3
Our Favorite Website: Flylady.com: Short on time and tired of the clutter in your home? Visit www.flylady.com . From the website, “FlyLady uses the Sidetracked Home Executive (SHE) system as a basis for organizing her home and her life. She adds humor, spunk, and a dose of common sense to her advice, but be prepared - FlyLady does not allow whining.”

Idea #4
Reusable Paper Towels: Striving to be green, but can’t live without the ease of a role of paper towels in your kitchen? Order these reusable paper towels, made from fabric to match your kitchen decor, that snap back onto a roll after being washed so they are ready to use again! http://hyenacart.com/prod_details.php?id+79973&vid+1898

Idea #5
A Bright Idea =’s a REALLY COOL Lamp: Do you have an item in your house that you have been hanging onto or that you just don’t know what to do with? Is there a room that needs a light fixture, but your tired of the same ole same ole lamps? Why not create a one of a kind original lamp. Stores such as hobby lobby, home depot, Lowe’s and many others sell various kits to create one of a kind lamps. Have a stack of old books, drill a hole down the middle and make a lamp How about a really cool mason jar, or vase? The sky is the limit, literally. This is an idea that Ray is sure to love! http://www.nationalartcraft.com/subcategory.asp?gid+1&cid+156&scid=226

Now some Free For All Topics...

Jack's Dog Party: Jack and his pack had fun at last Saturday's birthday party. Soon after guests arrived they used pom poms, glitter, foam cutouts, sequins, ribbons, flowers, and pipe cleaners to decorate party hats worthy of a Dog Party. Afterwards we read, "Go Dog Go," ate lunch out of dog bowls, played pin the dog tag on the dog collar, ate a dog bone shaped cake, played some more, and then sent guests on their way with a "doggie bag" in hand. Doggie bags included a small stuffed dog, a tennis ball for playing catch, dog bone shaped cookies, and dog stickers. The nicest surprise of the day? Richard found Scoobie Snacks - cinnamon cookies shaped liked dog bones. Final note: If the kids were a bit older I might have had them hunt for dog bones or play every dog's favorite game - BINGO! Brainstorming a future party of your own? Let us help.

St. Patrick's Day: Earlier this week, Erica suggested we generate ideas for celebrating St. Patrick's Day with our family and friends. If you were around last year at this time you might remember my telling you about Shamrock Shakes. Here's the Reader's Digest version. Every St. Patrick's Day, my mother gave me enough money to treat me and a friend to a green Shamrock Shake at McDonalds (I guess there are enough Irish people in New York to warrant this once-a-year specialty drink). Soon after meeting Richard and Ricky ten years ago I revived this favorite childhood memory. We make our own shakes using plenty of green dye (that's the fun part) and sipping them through (hoisted) McDonalds straws (all shakes are better when sipped through a McDonalds straw). How about you? What ideas to you have for making St. Patrick's Day extra fun for your family and friends?

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Almost one month into our new year and one or two of you have taken a second to share what you like and dislike about our new format. We want to hear from the rest of you. Tell us what you think.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March Madness: Beach Versus Blue Grass

At Highlowaha finding and sharing creative ideas is a like a sport. We engage in rigorous daily workouts, stretching ourselves to think creatively, staying current about the latest high performing equipment - all the while preparing for the next main event. With such a deep team of accomplished athletes, Katie, Heather, Cheryl, and I knew Highlowaha was up for the challenge of creating our own March Madness.

Eight teams are competing over the next four weeks to see which has the most creative idea (resource, tip, recipe, etc...) from 2008. A team shares their first idea and then, if advancing on to the next round, shares their second, third, and fourth ideas until Monday, March 30 when we meet for the final showdown. On Monday, Iowa's Ready to Read Bags beat Florida's Snuggie Blanket.

Today the California Golden Girls meet the Derby City Darlings in Round 2.

Idea #1
What better way to reminisce those unforgettable moments in life than through Animoto. Animoto.com is a website that allows you to be your own producer of a 30 second video. Users simply choose a song and memorable images. Animoto then automatically generates a unique video for them. No two videos are ever the same. The resulting video is produced in a widescreen format, containing the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer. If life is worth living, why not record it. Make a unique video like this one: http://animoto.com/play/ykHLVUSbFH2jRTs0K7gRyw


Idea #2
Photo Books from Shutterfly
Photo books from www.shutterfly.com : Simply by uploading your favorite photos to the Shutterfly website, and selecting from an array of backgrounds and layouts, you can create a wonderful gift for someone you love or for yourself! Photo books come in two sizes, a large “Memory Book” or a smaller “Story Book” to suit your needs. Faster - and possibly cheaper - than actual scrapbooking, the Photo Books are great for those who don’t have a lot of time (um, all of us!), or just feel like they are scrapbooking-challenged! Some people even take pictures of their children’s artwork to make a collage of their work, without having the clutter of all the papers. http://www.shutterfly.com/shop/Photo_Books/product_c18000

If American Idol can get an average of 32,000,000 votes each week, let's see what we can do. Post in the comment section letting us know... Video Clip or Photo Book?

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Women's History Wednesday

We've been wondering where many of you have been lately, I hear it has been nice weather across the country so maybe you've been playing outside and enjoying the sunshine, but since today brings cold and rain hopefully you'll be back to posting and engaging with one another about today's topic.

As each of you know we've dedicated Wednesdays during the month of March to sharing our creative inspirations. I was lucky enough to grow up with the most creative woman I've ever met. My Mom. That might sound corny but it is so true.

Have you ever met those people you feel were just made to have children or work with children? My Mom is definitely that person. She was the local teenage babysitter in high school, had 7 children of her own, has been the child care for my older sister's four children, housed many a resident floating friend, and now watches a sweet little toddler named Jacob. I for one can't picture my Mom without a child in her arms, in her lap, or at least in her home. Raising 7 children meant that my Mom was always having to think of creative ways to do everything, stretch the budget, get us out the door on time, and most importantly keep 7 children entertained. At this my Mom is masterful.

Here are some of her go to ideas that I think you will all appreciate:
  • At Christmas my Mom would go to the remnant fabric bucket at walmart and get scraps of Christmas fabric for 10 and 20 cents. Then she'd get some 4" styrofoam balls and set us to work making our Christmas ornaments which would become our Christmas gifts for teachers. Using small pieces of fabric, we'd push the edges down into the styrofoam with a butter knife. Then we'd pick another fabric design and push it into the ball. At the end we'd add a loop of ribbon and we had a beautiful patchwork ball perfect for anyone's tree and we had spent the afternoon getting in the Christmas spirit as a family.

  • When it comes to potty training my Mom takes the cake. Believe it or not she asserts that each of us was potty trained before the next child came along. That is most amazing because many of us are a mere 15 or 16 months apart. So of course as mother of a toddler I've been picking her brain for ideas and here are her creative fun tricks for all you Moms out there...for boys she always floated cheerios in the water for them to sink or put a few drops of blue food coloring in the potty so that when they successfully used it the water turned green. She insists that the way to go is to use the thick fabric training pants with the plastic covers, evidently it makes it uncomfortable for them and they want to get trained faster. Finally she isn't afraid to act like a fool, doing the potty dance, singing a song, or showing the toddler just how much fun it is to go potty.

  • A final fun idea I've been remembering lately is that when my Mom struggled with us writing on the walls (one of my personal struggles right now with Lily), instead of getting upset and saying no more crayons, markers, etc... she turned to the handy dandy brown bag and took action. She opened up four brown bags and layed them flat on the wall surrounding each with masking tape, then she set us loose with chalk. This let us feel the excitement of writing on the walls and the freedom to go out of the lines a little bit (chalkwipes right off of most semi-gloss paints) but still gave us boundaries that we could appreciate. What has me excited now is that fact that we don't even have to turn to brown paper bags to make my Mom's fun idea come to life. Target is currently selling peel and stick dots (17" in diameter) that are chalk board material for only $14.99 and online you can get them from Wallies in every size and shape most as low as $9.99. So, peel and stick a few of them in your little one's room and let them know that they can write on the walls to their hearts content. Or if you don't have little ones how about using a peel and stick chalkboard as your memo board, to-do list, or calendar? I can think of a million uses....what might you use them for?


Cookbook: Tera hasn't had many submissions turned in yet for the first ever HLA cookbook. Don't forget to send her all your creative (or just scrumptious!) recipes by 3/18 so she can get it pulled together for Mother's Day. Email them to tmichalski05@jcu.edu.

Surprise Surprise!: Our first Surprise Surprise! stunt is just around the corner. Don't forget to create your rainbow that says "Follow "your name's" rainbow to highlowaha!" and drop it in the mail to Julie Schnepp (16630 N. Reems Rd. #1064 Surprise, AZ 85374) no later than 3/13 so that she receives it before St. Patrick's Day. Remember that if your rainbow is followed you will be entered to win a fabulous prize and everyone who participates will get a rainbow patch for their "Patchwork Denim".

Women who Take the Cake: Don't forget about this easy way to honor a woman in your life. Send nominations by 5pm on March 18th to highlowaha218@gmail.com remember it is 200 words or less and the woman we choose will be presented a cake on your behalf.