Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not Just Hot Air

Today at 4:00 p.m. Matthew's teacher, Ms. Latrice, will cross over the threshold of Children's Courtyard for the last time, bidding farewell to the class that adores her and preparing for her family's move to California.

Interestingly enough, today's post won't be about Latrice - at least not directly.

Today's post will be a short tale of what it means to live the Spirit of 218. Newcomers to our community won't already know that, Spirit of 218 is the phrase Highlowaha readers use to describe the joy of making time for life's simple pleasures.

It didn't take long after learning of Latrice's departure that Matthew and I decided that an unfinished class project from last winter would be the perfect going away present for her.
Hot air balloon with barely one layer of paper mache applied. The recipe for paper mache, by the way, is simply flour and water (and strips of newspaper).

Tissue paper rolled into small balls and adhered to the balloon by dabbing each ball into Elmers Glue.
The hot air balloon is topped off with a basket holding a gift card Latrice can use to help her family get settled in their California digs.

Here's where Gift of 218 comes in. I ate lunch with a friend the other day and I was so excited about the project Matthew and I were working on, I couldn't help tell her about it. She immediately rolled her eyes in a lovingly way and said, "Claudia, why do you do this stuff to yourself. Do what ever other mother will do. Buy Ms. Latrice a present, put it in a gift bag, and be done with it."

She challenged me to think about why I busy my life with projects that are clearly unnecessary and how much more simple my days would be if I didn't "go overboard."

All at once I blurted out my defense and I'll be dammed if the conviction and clarity of my explanation didn't even surprise me! Here's what I said.

Getting the time to work side by side with Matthew on a project like this is EXACTLY what life is about. It is the Gift of 218 personified. Not only do we get to sit on the garage floor getting dirty while paper maching, but we also worked together rolling tissue paper, deciding on a design, and brainstorming from what we could make the basket.

BUT even more importantly... the two of us talked. I got quiet time to instill in Matthew my beliefs about the importance of thanking people who are good to us and the thoughtfulness involved in giving a handmade gift. We spent time talking about all the reasons we were appreciative for Latrice and what he thinks he'll miss most about her. He got to participate in a creative activity - not just hear me talk about the importance of being creative and using our imaginations.

Those lifelong lessons of gratitude, generosity, and creativity were worth every bit of the four hours we worked on Latrice's present this month.

To the outside world what Latrice will receive from Matthew is a finally finished paper mache hot air balloon, with a basket and a small treat inside. What I know, and what you now know, is that Ms. Latrice is actually receiving the Gift of 218. And, as is the case with the Gift of 218, the real recipient is actually the gift giver.

So thank you, Latrice. Thank you for being so good to my son over the past year and a half. Thank you for loving him, teaching him about the globe, the importance of drinking water, and letters of the alphabet. Thank you for choosing him be Rug Captain, feeding his interest in books, and reminding him to wash his hands after going to the bathroom.

But also, thank you for inspiring us to forgo a quick run through of our local mall in search of the quick and easy present. Instead, thank you, Latrice for the Gift of 218!

We will miss you.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Oooooohhh, aaaahhhh"

Just back from San Antonio where Richard and I enjoyed the first vacation we've taken alone since a short stint in Chicago five years ago.  Feeling refreshed.  

Today we'll celebrate excellence.

We'll celebrate Luis, the guide who drove our tour boat through San Antonio's canals.  

Luis understands the fact that when a tourist purchases a ticket for the River Boat Tour it's about so much more than learning of historic markers.  Face it, if all we really hoped for was to learn the history of the Alamo; the story behind Hugman, the man who envisioned the walk in the early 1920s; or architectural insights into the 20+ bridges along the canal then we could have Googled it while sitting under the shade of a restaurant umbrella, sipping margaritas.  

No.  Taking a River Boat Tour is as much about having an experience and making a memory as it it is learning facts about a place we may or may not revisit.

Luis got that.  Within the first 30 seconds of us boarding the boat, he immediately broke the ice by having us sit knee to knee with a perfect stranger and then sharing our home towns.  By three minutes into the tour, Luis dutifully described the unique architecture of a hospital along the river and then implored us to make him look good to those on the sidewalk by waiting for his cue then exclaiming, "ooohhhh, aaahhhhh." 

It worked.   Not only did all 50 of us turn a lot of heads by exclaiming, in unison, "ooohhh" and "aaahhhh," but almost instantaneously and inexplicably his request turned strangers into warm acquaintances.  Five minutes into the tour and we felt like old friends at a reunion.  The burst of positivity that came from feeling part of something warm - something bigger - made the $8.25 per ticket seem more than worth it.

The rest of Luis's tour followed suit.  He masterfully continued with his perfect combination of facts and interactive fun.  I appreciated learning more about Texas history, but what I'll really remember is laughing with our new friends from Cleveland and, for thirty-five minutes, the unexpected gift of feeling completely and totally in community.

It got me thinking.  I want to make sure we're doing the same for you.  

Step right up and get your ticket to our Highlowaha Boat Tour.  You might think you're on board for fun facts you might learn along the way, but if Heather, Katie, Cheryl, and I are as good as Luis, then your blog ride will be more about sitting knee to knee and joyfully exclaiming "ooohhhh" and "aaaahhhh" then it will be about learning to write a message in code or to pipe and flood a cookie.

Join me.  Let's gauge.  I'll give a cue and then all of you chime in.  Your cue won't be a word or a series of words.  It'll be a time.  At precisely 1:00 p.m. CST, meet me in the comment section to post "ooooohhhh" and "aaaahhhhh."  We'll see if we can't also turn a few heads.


Get your own Digital Clock


Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Traveler's Dilemma


Happy Saturday, Highlowaha! It's Katie here. After all the 'rain' this week (albeit good rain), let's talk about some sunshine!

As I'm sure you're all aware, earlier this week we officially entered summer. With summer comes everyone's favorite thing: vacation! While I'm not taking a summer vacation this year, it is still fresh on my mind. After all, just today, the Beeny boys and I kicked Richard and Claudia out of town for the weekend so they could take a little vacation together and my friend Nicole is preparing for a month-long vacation to Europe!

It is with Nicole in mind that I write today's post. You see, she has a packing challenge on her hands. She is going to Europe for an entire month. She has one suitcase in which she must fit everything and still have it weigh less than 44 pounds.

While talking to her on the phone yesterday afternoon, she was telling me of her situation and asked me how she should pack her clothes. I have heard of many different approaches to packing for such a long trip. They include the traditional fold, rolling them, laying them flat, and even As Seen on TV, vacuum bags to seal them tight. Let's face it. Packing for a summer vacation takes a small slice of creativity to make it all fit. How do you pack your clothes? Take the poll below to let us know your opinion. My opinion (which I shared with Nicole) is to roll them. However, she still seemed a little hesitant after that advice from me, so hopefully all of you will be able to help her with this dilemma.


Get This - Survey Results - GlowDay.com

To close for today.....where are you going this summer? We all know that Peggy went with her DD to Florida for a volleyball tournament and I know Kat returned recently from vacation. What about the rest of you? Any fun plans?

Signing off until Monday with the song of the day...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fin For All Friday

Another Friday, another fun video. Sit back and enjoy...




Laughing so hard you missed the result of the Fancy Flours Cookie Cutter Challenge?...

A quick recap.

This month the holiday we were celebrating was my husband's birthday, so it seemed only appropriate that I be the packaging - mermaid costume and all. The tag line... "I flip for you!"
Here's a close up of the cookies. Thanks to my sidekicks for helping me pipe and flood.


Win your very own mermaid cookie cutter by posting in the comment section. Share your idea for another occasion when you might use the mermaid cookie cutter and the tag line to go along with it. If we vote yours the best, you'll win.

Want to vote on the cookie cutter to be used in July's challenge? Check back on Thursday, July 2.

Signing off until tomorrow...


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rainmakers

It worked! 

Middle of the summer in Grapevine, Texas and no rain in the forecast.  Yet suddenly yesterday around  5:00 p.m., along comes a down pour so fierce I had to slow my car down to 25 mph.

Mistake?   I don't think so.

The message could not be any more clear.  Shower the people around you with words of admiration and good will will rain down on you... literally.  

No idea what I'm talking about?  Scroll back to see posts from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week.

Before I move on, indulge me in a few more lines...

The rainstorm didn't last more than 45 minutes, but I took it personally and I hope you will too.  Here's why.  Life is busy, so mustering up the discipline to write my post is easier some days than others.  I know you can relate, because squeezing in the extra 15 minutes to read our post is, I am sure, also easier some days than it is on others.  But, you do it.  

That brief, but intense, rainstorm on a perfectly sunny day, in the middle of a Texas summer, is all I needed to affirm what we're doing here at Highlowaha is not only important, but that it's getting noticed... if you know what I mean! 

Now onto today's creative idea.

Attitude Boxes... or buckets as the case may be.
Here's the thing.  The more you fill other people's buckets, the more you will find your bucket being filled.  This summer is the perfect time to get an old box, some glue (or decoupage), tissue paper, stickers, pictures from magazines, and to use them in creating your own Attitude Box.  

This, by the way, is a great activity for kids (and adults) of all ages!

Once your box is decorated with words, pictures, quotes, and symbols that represent you, it serves as the perfect place to store all your "drops."  I call it an Attitude Box, because on days when you are sure no one thinks you are much better a stagnant-pond-scum-licker, you can bust open your box and give yourself a healthy dose of attitude adjustment.

So how about making a deal with yourself?  Agree to become part-time weatherman (or woman).  Forecast rain now and again - even purple rain.  But, be prepared and don't forget your red galoshes or your Attitude Bucket.  You'll need them. 

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Purple Rain

Newcomers to our site. Today is Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday. It's the day we join forces with Roger von Oech, creator of the Whack Pack. He presents a creative principle and we, in turn, use the principle to advance an idea.

Today's idea... more rain.

Monday we joined together and created a rainstorm by filling buckets with droplets of thoughtfulness. Tuesday we danced in the rain while wearing red boots. That is to say we embraced our inner child by continuing to send notes, but this time in secret code. One more day of rain couldn't hurt, especially when so many of us are experiencing droughts (literally and figuratively).

Today, fun rain. Creative rain. Purple rain.

To get us going... von Oech.

Get Out of the Dogma House: Nothing clouds your decision-making abilities like dogma. Example: none other than Plato himself dictated that the circle was the perfect form of celestial movement, and for the next two thousand years, astronomers said that planetary orbits were circular - even though their observational data suggested otherwise. Even Copernicus used circles in his heliocentric model of the universe. Only after much soul-searching did Kepler use the ellipse to describe the heavenly paths. Everyone has externally imposed "shoulds" and values that influence their thinking. What dogma is clouding your mind?

Ms. Manners and others provide us with plenty of dogma about thank you notes and other notes of recognition. In fact, to prove the point I did a poll of all the people in my afternoon meeting yesterday. What preconceived notions do you have about writing or sending someone a note," I asked.

Answers. Billy, they should be prompt and brief; Tiffany, they should be sincere; Sharon, they should be unexpected and handmade; Philip, they should be personal; and Katie, a note should be specific.

If prompt, brief, sincere, unexpected, handmade, personal, and specific is some of the dogma associated with sending a note, then how might that be clouding our thinking? That's what I spent yesterday thinking about.

Long about 4:15 p.m. it hit me. By ascribing to the dogma that ALL notes have to be personal, I miss out on the impact that an impersonal, yet uplifting message might have on an unsuspecting passer-by.

By 5:00 p.m. Matthew and I were kneeling on the pavement outside our local Starbucks. We were using side walk chalk to write customers an impersonal, but uplifting message. So much fun were we having, we immediately zoomed over to his preschool and left a message on the steps for this morning. After that the post office, then the supermarket, and finally a welcome home message to the neighbors in the culdesac.

Never has an impersonal and non-specific message felt so good!

So how about you? Use my dogma or come up with your own. How is it clouding your thinking? And, how can you whack your thinking to create purple rain that even Ms. Manners would approve of?
Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Code Red

Four of my five drops made it into buckets yesterday. Not bad considering I spent 35 minutes in my car, lost and looking for the Chili's Bar and Grill (apparently located less than 7 minutes from campus). And, that was WITH my GPS! No, Monday wasn't winning any awards.

What I don't have in sense of direction, I like to think I make up for in my sense of fun. Raindrops in buckets are fun, it is true. But, raindrops written in code have to be the equivalent of red galoshes, deep puddles, splashing, and singing in the rain.

We'll keep yesterday's rainstorm going, but today we would do it while wearing red galoshes. Today we'll write our raindrops in secret code.

So many codes, so little time.

How about Ray Latin:
If the first letter of a word is a consonant, move it to the end of the word, and add the letters ray. If the consonant sound is made of two or more letters, like sh or ph, move all of them.
  • blog = logbray
  • phone = onephray
Silly Spaces:
Put a space after each vowel rather than after each word.
  • A re we ha vi ngfu ye t?
Dots and Dashes
-.-- --- ..- -.- -. --- .---, .-.. .. -.-- . -- --- .-. ... . -.-. --- -.. .
Code for, "You know, like Morse Code."

Of course you can use the old, twist-a-piece-of-paper-around-a-pencil-then-write-the-note-and-unravel-the-paper trick, as is pictured at the top of today's post. The only thing the recipient needs is her own pencil to decode your message.

Or, you could use our code of choice today - By the Numbers. Here we write out the alphabet and then, beginning at an agreed upon letter (for us it will be "R"), each letter is assigned a number. I'm using dashes between words.
  • 16 18 5 14 - 18 3 - 10 - 6 17 18 1 21. Code for, "Give it a whirl."
So excited am I about red galoshes, I'm going to do two things:

Right this very minute I am going to pull the names of three people from my Random Acts of Kindness Bag. If your name is drawn, you will receive a coded message from me in the mail late next week. Once received, decode your message and post in the comment section for that day's post. Be first and you will win a prize. And the winners are:
  • 22 18 2 3 8
  • 14 1 18 12 10
  • 12 1 18 2 3 18 23 14
Second, I am going to suggest that today we send one another coded rain drops. Pick another reader and use our By the Number Code to send your message. I'll start...

12 17 10 24 3 18 12,

8 24 4 1 - 14 10 1 21 8 - 22 24 1 23 18 23 16 - 25 24 2 3 2 - 10 21 6 10 8 2 - 17 14 21 25 - 2 14 1 - 10 - 23 18 12 14 - 3 24 23 14. 3 17 10 23 20 - 8 24 4!

Think this is fun? This book is $6.00 at Barnes and Noble (cheaper if you have their membership card). Think of the fun you, your kids, your neighbors, and co-workers could have!

2 18 16 23 18 23 16 - 24 15 15 - 4 23 3 18 21 - 3 24 22 24 1 1 24 6...


Monday, June 22, 2009

Storm Chasers

A storm's brewin'... I hope.

A few years back I attended a presentation about a bucket - something about our buckets being filled or emptied, based on our interactions with others. And, the more full our bucket the better. I didn't remember details, but I remembered generally liking the premise.

Fast forward.

Wednesday morning I opened my email to a thoughtful note from a dear friend. The note thanked me for sharing an evening of what most of us would describe as mundane (even monotonous) activities - running errands, giving baths to the boys, and cleaning up after dinner. But the note was so personal, so detailed, and so generous my bucket could not help but be filled. Hump day at 9:04 a.m. and I had the energy of a person who could have worked another week.

Suddenly it came rushing back to me. Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, "How Full Is Your Bucket?" They maintain, we experience approximately 20,000 individual moments in a waking day. Each moment lasts only a few seconds - and rarely are they remembered as neutral. Most moments are remembered as being either positive or negative.

Wednesday, June 17 at 9:04: positive.

One more thing. There's a magic ratio. Apparently five positive interactions to one negative interaction is the magic ratio for marriages whereas 3:1 suffices in the work place (yes, marriage is harder work than work).

Today I play weather woman. Today I want to end the drought by creating conditions for a more positive outlook and for renewed energy. Let it rain. Put drops in the buckets of people you know. Say thank you, pay a compliment, or catch someone in the act of doing something right. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

Turns out there's a science to filling buckets just like there's a science to predicting weather (unless you live in Arizona... where it's just plain hot). Drops must be individual, specific, and deserved. If it doesn't fulfill those three criterion, it won't soak in. The drop will run right off, without ever penetrating.

So, regardless of what the weather is doing outside your window right now, make it rain. Commit to a ratio of 5:1. Place five drops in the buckets of people you think are deserving. Let's see today if we can't brew a storm together. And, if you want... tell us about your weather and who you'll rain down on.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Gift of 218: A Noble Enterprise

Happy Saturday morning, Heather here with a compelling story and a call to action.

About two weeks ago I had a really horrible experience at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Let's just say I finally left with a car 15 miles away from the original location, 2 hours after my reservation time and with a VERY cranky toddler. Typically I'm the type of person who doesn't complain but I was upset by the manager's response so I called their Corporate Customer Service Line. The next day I got a call from Matthew Hamilton, the regional manager for this area and he turned my experience around. You see, Matthew made me an offer, "think about it over the next few days and give him a call if there was something they could do to win me back as a customer." I hung up thinking I wouldn't take him up on that offer. I really didn't NEED anything and I wasn't sure they could do anything to win me back as a customer. But then it hit me like a lead balloon. I didn't need anything but there are plenty of people out there who do...so on Monday morning I called Mr. Hamilton back and told him I'd like to take him up on the offer he had made the week before. You see I had realized that Enterprise could win me back as a customer if they would give a voucher to the Gift of 218 so we could send a family on a family vacation. He didn't skip a beat in saying that he thought that was a great idea and consider it done. He also asked me to send information on the Gift of 218 his way as he'd like to see if maybe his Regional Vice President would be interested in forging a longer term relationship with our organization.

So...that is how the Gift of 218 got a gift from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The voucher has arrived in my mailbox and now I'm on the search for a hotel that might be willing to jump in to offer the same type of customer service.

So how does this apply to you? I'd like to challenge each of you to think in this same mindset...what do YOU have to offer the Gift of 218 that could help us give a family an experience? How might you compel others to give of themselves for the cause?

Katie and I are completing our paperwork to become an official charitable organization so that we are tax deductible. We are still soliciting people to join us in our Dine by Design Challenge to help us raise funds to grant experiences, will you host a table? Do you know a family that you think would make a great Gift of 218 recipient? If so complete the nomination form located here and email it to us at highlowaha218@gmail.com.

More than anything, think of how you might contribute to spreading the Spirit of 218 through the Gift of 218 after all it is a noble enterprise.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Free For All Friday

Lights, camera, action...



If you're running behind and still don't have a Father's Day gift in mind, ask and we'll help you Free For All a few ideas. The cake pictured below was a suggestion from last year.



Signing off until tomorrow...


Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Time...

Those of you new to Highlowaha will quickly learn that the 18th of any month means one thing to our community. It is the day we engage in our favorite monthly ritual - an activity worth sticking around for.

But first a short rant.

Where there is indifference there is apathy and where there is apathy there is rarely community. Last month I neglected to draw the name of one lucky winner to receive the Ray Wattson shirt of his/her choice. No one called me on it.

That's not good. Your indifference means we have work to do as a community. The shirts are way too cool to ignore, so it either means you didn't know, didn't care, or didn't want to hurt my feelings. Say nothing and I hear, "Whatever. What do I care?" Rattle my cage and I hear, "Listen up, Claudia. You promised a Ray shirt a month. I tune in every day, read what you have to say, and patiently wait for the chance to win a highly sought after Ray Wattson shirt. Get with it. I expect more from you and from this community."

All is not lost, though.

Scold me. Go to the comment section and hold me accountable for letting our community down. I'll give May's shirt to the person who makes me feel most guilty. That means you too, Lurkers! Visit GalleRay to see your choices.

And while you're at it... engage in the activity that has quickly become a monthly ritual (and enter yourself in a chance to win June's t-shirt)?

Each month on the 18th, we pay tribute to the origin of our blog name and to the core of what our blog is about. We stop, take a few minutes, and reflect on "highs" (best thing); "lows" (worst thing); and "ahas" (something we learned) from the past month.

That's what communities do - occasionally give the gift of time, knowing the investment you make in sharing a small piece of yourself, contributes to a whole far bigger than the sum of its parts. That, and hold one another accountable.

Here are my highs, lows, and ahas for the past month.
  • High: Katie arriving in Texas and a fruitful HLA retreat, resulting in a bright future for Highlowaha.
  • Low: Backing my car into a light post (small ding) and making a professional decision for which I am less than proud.
  • Aha: Thomas Edison had, on average, 17 posts every year for 63 years.
Now you. Go to comment section. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday. It's been a while.

This Highlowaha tradition is our way of making sure that, in addition to receiving your daily dose of creativity, you are also giving your creative muscles a workout. We will have failed you if after following our blog for a period of time you don't find yourself more creative than when you entered our community. Besides... the stronger your creative muscles get, the better your input is to our comment section.

Normally we enlist the help of Roger von Oech, creator of the Whack Pack, to provide us the creative principle that expands or thinking for the day. After months, even a year, of keeping company with Roger, I thought I'd give a whirl at flying solo.

Kids toothbrushes.

Walk into your local drugstore or Target and there are rows of kids toothbrushes from which to choose. Some spin, others light up, and still more have figures that float from one end of the brush to another whenever the brush is tipped. Action figures such as Elmo, Superman, and the Incredible Hulk that don't light up, move, or talk are old news. Passe.

Here's the latest Beeny Brush.


Point. Kids are pleased, but not surprised, when a toothbrush has a suction cup attached to the bottom. They, in fact, expect a toothbrush to be more than a utilitarian tool and it is precisely that sense of possibility that allows kids to free their creativity. Kids are not surprised when a toothbrush performs. But, jaded adults? We are. We resign ourselves to accepting that it's ok for a toothbrush to be boring. Eventually our imaginations fall in line with our limited expectations and slowly our creativity slips into hiding.

Not today! Today we will reclaim a piece of our childlike wonder. Exercise your creativity by selecting any mundane household item with which we come in contact fairly regularly. Expect more from it. Demand that it capture your imagination in the same way a toothbrush can capture the imagination of a child.

Go ahead. Name an item and whack it. Describe how it could be improved or enhanced. Why should a vacuum only vacuum? Why is it ok that kids sneakers light up, but my hair dryer is perfectly complacent with a simple on/off button? I want more and so should you.

Take it away.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dig Deep

I like to brag that Highlowaha is the place where creativity and community meet - you know, the place where communities are literally better off because of the creativity of our readership.

Yes, it's true there are innumerable blogs about creativity in cyberspace and at least as many other groups conducting noble service projects. But, the combination of both creativity AND community feels like our special niche. Our euphoric corner of the world.

Read on.

A few months ago, long-time reader, Robin, approached Highlowaha to see if we might consider granting a Gift of 218 to the mother of a young boy with whom she'd come in contact. Robin shared that Ike was born with a number of health problems, resulting in countless trips to doctors and mounting medical bills. We decided, after lengthy discussions, that their needs didn't exactly match the intent of Highlowaha's Gift of 218, but we immediately welcomed the opportunity to find a new, creative way to help this deserved family.

We visited their website (http://www.ikeasaurus.com/) and learned that, on occasion, artists donate t-rex t-shirt designs and allow them to be sold through Cafe Press. Each time a shirt is sold, Ike's family gets a portion of the proceeds and that money goes towards his medical expenses. We weren't up for just another t-rex design, but decided instead to develop a design uniquely highlowaha-style. Check it out...


Now that we've done our part (actually Cheryl did most of the work), maybe you'll jump in and do yours. Honor the life and health of a young child you know. Purchase a kids T-Ray Shirt and present it to him/her with a note letting them know why you think they are special. It'll make their day and Ike's too.

We have a goal.

According to Wikipedia, t-Rexs have approximately 200 bones. "Approximately" means around...a rough estimate. It could just as easily have been 218 bones. Couldn't it have been?

Our goal? Sell 21 shirts by 8/18 - just over one month away. Send us an email or make a post letting us know which child you purchased a shirt for and we will enter him/her in drawing for a personalized prize from Highlowaha.

We'll make it easy. Just click here and it'll take you immediately to Cafe Press, so you can order your shirt... or shirts (http://www.cafepress.com/ikeasaurus/6749050). Two pointers. Order a size bigger than you might. They seem to run a little small. Also, I thought I ordered my shirts in white, but as it turns out I ordered beige. I actually like them even more on beige. They look archaeological-like.

Let's get the ball rolling by spending today brainstorming all the fun ways you might package this fun treat - including a fun tag line. Here's my attempt...

Wrap it in burlap and twine with a note that reads, "No bones about it, you're one T-rrific kid!"

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Write Arrangement


Three binder clips, two old rubber bands, a Triple A battery, and a light blue colored pencil with a dulled edge. Everything but a functioning writing utensil. I sigh in exasperation while using the nub of Jack's crayon to take a phone message for Richard. I instantly realize I am living my mother's biggest pet peeve. Only now it's my biggest pet peeve too.

Pens and pencils disappear from the kitchen dispenser quicker than my teenage son when realizing the dishwasher needs to be emptied.

Funny thing is, I have vivid memories of my mother flailing her arms while stranded on the rotary phone in the kitchen. She was desperately trying to catch someone's attention in time to dash around the house searching for a pen and to retrieve it in enough time that she could copy down her message.

Separated by 40 years and 1,200 miles, my mother and I remain bound by our simple quest for a working pen within arms reach of the kitchen telephone.

This week my parents are coming to visit and I wanted to put a small treat in the guest room where they will be staying - something my mother has modeled my entire adult life. She is a retired florist and, still, there is never a time we visit when she hasn't placed beautiful arrangements throughout the house. Now that we hail from Texas, the flower of choice for our bedroom is usually a fresh collection of yellow roses.

I'm no florist, but committed to our cause and inspired by floral pens found on sale at Borders, I think I found the perfect treat. Check out what I made.

Terra cotta pot, $1.00; acrylic paint, $0.89/per; shred, free; styrofoam to stick pens in, $1.89; floral pens on sale, $2.99/per. Not bad for this small and functional treat.

Can you relate or do you have another pet peeve you want to tell us about? As for me...

Signing off (by keyboard, not pen - since I can't find one) until tomorrow...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Bargained Story

Before I begin, there are two orders of congratulations due to members of this community.
Happy Birthday, Robin!
The second is a little more personal to me and goes out to one of our loyal lurkers. Happy Anniversary (a day late) to my mom and dad. They celebrated 28 years yesterday. Today's post and creative idea come from the basement of their house.
Before we get into the story about my mom and dad and the creative idea I will share today, I must first give some background as to how I decided to post about this topic today. About a week ago, I was over at Claudia's house and she was trying to bribe Matthew to brush her hair (let's face it- doesn't it feel great when someone else brushes your hair?!). In order to keep him motivated to brush her hair, I told him that if he kept brushing, I would tell him stories about my childhood, about my mom, my dad, and their house (the house I grew up in).

I was explaining to him that my mom and dad moved into their house a few months before I was born almost 23 years ago. They have not moved since then. For this reason, there is a lot of history in that house and our childhood is built within the walls of that home. I told Matthew about one of my favorite parts of my house. In the basement, my parents have a ledge that goes around most of the room. For as long as I can remember, that ledge has been full of picture frames. The frames hold pictures of my brothers and me, family friends, family members, and my parents. While that ledge has now become walls full of shelves- it still holds years of photos. I was telling Matthew about some of the frames on the ledge and that if you were to open the back of the frame, you would discover years worth of pictures behind the one that is showing in the frame. For example, each of my brothers and I have an 8' x 10' frame that holds our school pictures from Kindergarten to senior year of high school. While our senior picture is the one that you currently see through the glass in the frame, if you were to open them up, you'd find years worth of school pictures.
Looking back on it now, this is one bargain of a scrapbook for me and my family. There are no fancy stickers or layout of photos. Instead, it is simple and nostalgic. It's nothing fancy, but I think that's what makes it so special. Part of me feels sad that some of the magic of printing and framing pictures is being lost through the new digital age. Now, don't get me wrong, I love technology just as much as the next person, but in the same way I think snail mail has a special feeling to it, I also think printed photographs in a frame have a special feeling.

I can't wait to take my children to my parents' home and look through all the photos around the house. I can't wait to point out my "favorite" photos to them. I think that wall of frames is one simple touch that makes my parents' home extra special and significant in my life. So, today, consider going out and having a photo printed. Then, buy a frame to put it in. Next year, replace it with a new photo but keep the old one behind it in the frame. Begin your own bargain of a scrapbook.

Do you already have framed pictures around your home? What's your favorite picture? If you were to choose one photo that you wanted to be framed and hanging in your home right now, what would it be?

Announcement:
  • After 'playing around' on Facebook for awhile last night, I discovered a feature on Robin's page where you can 'follow' blogs through a feature called 'Networked Blogs'. You can find a new widget on the right side of the blog, with a button that says 'Follow This Blog'. If you are on Facebook, please press this button and share the word about HLA with your Facebook friends!
Signing off until Monday with the song of the day...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our First Hundred Days

As I went to post today's blog I realized it will be the 100th post under the new format, four writers strong. It seems somewhat serendipitous then that this is the last post under this format before we change over to the new structure as Claudia described on Tuesday (Claudia writing Monday-Thursday, Friday serving as our Free For All Video and Saturday allowing each of us to take the reigns once a month). Like the President, our first 100 days have allowed us to refine our strategy, develop a more deliberate approach, and learn the ropes. Now that we have determined our course of action you can bet that great things are bound to happen.

With all that said, here's this week's Free For All Friday...




So what are your thoughts? Free for all the "Pounding Party" and let us know if you are in for a Dine by Design party and what theme you might choose.

As always I'll start.
How about "Pound for Pound the best friend around!"
Dine by Design I'm still contemplating and will have to think about it more today and check back in later.

Also, you may have spotted a new feature on the right side of the blog. It's called "Surprise Me"! If you click on this it will take you to a random post within our blog. This can provide you with a blast from the past or maybe a fresh idea that you've forgotten about! Check it out and enjoy!

See you all on twitter! (www.twitter.com/raywattson)

Signing off until tomorrow...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fortune Telling

Welcome back to another day here at Highlowaha! It's Katie here to bring you a creative idea for the day. After talking about friendship bracelets last week, I was thinking of fun projects I did as a kid during the summers. One of those projects was always making my own fortune teller out of paper. I know this was popular among my friends and I'm sure some of you have made them before, but I thought it'd be a fun idea to share today.

  1. Start out with a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper
  2. Take the top right corner of the paper and fold it downward along the left side border of the paper
  3. Cut off the extra rectangle of paper below the fold you just made
  4. Now unfold the paper to make a square.
  5. Take each corner of the paper and fold it into the middle of the square to make 4 triangles
  6. Flip the paper over and repeat the step from above
  7. Pick up the paper and fold in half once and then fold in half again
  8. Lay the paper flat with the side with 4 squares facing up
  9. Color each of these squares a different color
  10. Flip the paper over and label each of the smaller triangles with a number 1-8 (in order)
  11. Lift up each of the larger triangles and write a fortune underneath to correspond with the 1-8 number on top. You should write 8 fortunes.
  12. Pick up the paper and push the four corners together to make a fortune teller
I hope that made sense. Instead of trying to give you step-by-step instructions on how to use it, I've decided to include a youtube video to show you how to use the new paper fortune teller you've just made.



I have one slight twist on this that you could do with your kids. You could put a chore as one of the fortunes. Then, they could play this game to see what chore they needed to do that day. Maybe take out the trash, vacuum the living room, etc. Or maybe you could put fun "trips" as the fortunes. A night at the movies, going to the public swimming pool, etc. Take a twist on this however you want with your kids for the summer. Feel free to share them in the comment section.

Now for a little fun for us! I have written some fortunes on the inside of my fortune teller. We will do this in 3 rounds today for you all to find out your fortunes. Here's what you need to do to participate! First, between 5:00 AM and 12:00 noon make a comment in the comment section telling me which color you want to choose (orange, pink, green, or yellow). At 12 noon, I will post telling all of you what numbers you need to choose from. Sometime between 12:00 noon and 3:00 PM, you need to choose one of the numbers that I give you to choose from and post your selection in the comments. At 3:00 PM, I will comment one more time telling each of you what your fortune is for the day! I hope some of you will play along! See you at 12 noon for the first round!

Signing off until tomorrow with the song of the day...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kentucky or Bust!!

Good morning, Highlowaha! Today, I'm looking for your input for our Second Annual Taste of USA trip. Ten of us made the trip last year to Philadelphia and we had a great time. As your Cruise Director I would like for us to at least double that number and the competitor in me would like to see the number triple. 30 people living the Spirit of 218. Taking time out of our lives to come together- physically, not virtually- and have a great day of creativity and community. Sounds great doesn't it?

Get your calendars out. We are looking at two dates. Our first choice and our preference is Saturday, September 12th. Our second choice is September 26th. How's it looking for you?

Our destination is Louisville, Kentucky. Walk, bike, drive, jump a train or flap your wings and fly. I don't care how you get there but just get there. The Dallas crew will fly in the night before and head back out on Sunday. Our day will start at 9:00 am. We will break at noon for lunch and reconvene at 1:00 pm. We will plan to stop the official meeting at 4:00 pm but the fun doesn't have to stop there. Last year we enjoyed dinner together for those of that stayed and then drinks.

We are assembling the details for a fun filled day... would you like to learn how to flood and decorate a cookie? Or, make a box from a card? Or, learn how to make your own greeting card? (Peggy, you're coming right?) I'm telling you what you really need to learn is how to tie a bow by Claudia! You will never need to have someone put there finger on the string again!

So, what's your task today?
  • Dates- I know we won't please everyone but we will please the majority of you because we're DemocRAYtic that way.
  • Topics- want to learn something? Let us know. One of us will learn how, find someone that knows how or whatever it takes to teach you.
  • Want to teach something to the group? We'd be happy to have you participate!
  • Are you in?
  • And if you're not... what silly thing will I volunteer myself to do for you at Taste of USA that will make you want to come? (You can include the group of us if you want.) Do I need to wear purple boots while doing the River Dance? Do a cheer every hour on the hour? Sing the song I wrote for the Olympics- though I'm pretty sure you would only be torturing yourself with that one. You're a creative group, throw out some ideas.

That's what I need: Dates, Topics, Are you coming, Make the Cruise Director Dance... Give it to us!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

*Ray is Twittering! Are you following him? He's busy spreading the news about RAK!

*You can now easily share Highlowaha! There should be a link at the bottom of this post that says Share. Go ahead! Spread the news! Katie will give further direction if need be in today's comment section.

You are a great group of people and I am honored to be in your company! Thanks for all your participation!! Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Change is in the Air

Stick with me.  Important message.  Circuitous route.

Turns out, I'm good at far less than I thought.

One look in my garage is all the evidence you or anyone would ever need. Two unfinished, Altoid tables sit in the corner waiting for "the closer" to come in and spend the 20 minutes (max) that it will take to finish them.  Directly across from the Altoid tables is a small cooler stuffed with a plaid pillow case and filled with the coins from Matthew's piggy bank.  Long time readers will remember we were supposed to count the coins and report back about the total amount.  Matthew's birthday is in mid-April.  Today is June 9.

Yeah, it's true.  I like the idea of ideas far more than I like the mundane tasks associated with carrying them out.  No, I'm not, nor ever will be, anyone's "closer."

I'm not out of business though.  You know why? 

I keep great company.  Katie, Heather, and Cheryl - my side kicks in this whole blog venture - are the yin to my yang.  They are skilled organizers/techies/people-people, and artists.  Even they aren't each good at all of those things, though.  Further proof none of us is good at everything. 

Sunday we had a Highlowaha retreat and the three of them let me in on a little secret.  They don't love making daily posts the way I do.  Cheryl loves doing the craft part of her blog posts, Katie loves figuring out new ways to do things such as add her Song of the Day, and Heather could spend hours contacting friends to participate in HLA events like yesterday's CompadRay Q&A.

Each of us is good at something different, but we share something in common.  We all agree that life is too short to spend time doing something we don't thoroughly enjoy.  So, my "compadrays" and I are switching things up again at Highlowaha.  Beginning Monday, I will resume writing daily posts (except Fridays when we come to you via video and Saturdays which we'll rotate).  The other three will be fully employed advancing our blog community in all the ways I have failed.  Heather will work at recruiting readers as fun as each of you.  Katie will manage patches, paperwork, and keep us ahead of the technology curve, and Cheryl... well, Cheryl will continue cranking out one amazing Ray after another and will help make my attempts at creative endeavors more fabulous. 

This is a better use of our time and talents and I think, in time, you'll agree.

Tell us about a task you find yourself carrying out that is a total mismatch with your skills and interests or... just tell us what you think of the switch-up. 

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Psst...

CompadRay
Hola amigos.  CompadRay here.  Spot came to visit.  We haven't seen each other since we were kids.  Spot had the bright idea to get our pics taken in one of those booths.  I almost lost an eye there at the end.  

We used to have such fun.  One time we were sneaking out of the house to go to a party.  You know the drill.  Quiet as a mouse, the folks finally asleep and the party just getting good.  We had the front door open and were almost gone.  Spot decides to step on the cat.  That cat hisses and claws at his feet.  Spot freaks out and here comes the high beam.  I can't remember our story but Dad wasn't buying it.  Spot  wasn't allowed over after that.

We all have one of those friends.  They've been there and have the battle scars to prove it.  Good thing it's National Friends Day.  We can sit back reminisce and say thanks for being a friend.  Speaking of friends.  Let's test that friendship.  Here's a list of questions.  Not only do we want you to answer these, but you should stay tuned to the comments section.  Some of us have truly put our friends to the test.  We've sent them these questions to answer about us.  I wonder how they'll do.  Not that we're into rewarding friendship or anything but answer the questions.  There might be a little something in it for someone.  Ready?  Here you go.
  • Who is your celebrity crush?
  • What is one beauty product you can't live without?
  • What was the most thoughtful gift you have received from a friend?
  • What family member of your is the craziest?
  • What is a favorite past time for you and a friend?
  • Which part of your body do you like the least?
  • Who was your worst boyfriend/girlfriend?
Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lights, Camera, Friendship

Happy Birthday, Tera!!!

Happy Saturday morning, Highlowaha! Katie here to bring you our final day of lead-up to National Friendship Day which will be happening on Monday, June 8. Today, we will take time to share and read stories about friendships that we are all so glad to have.

Some of you sent in photographs of you with your closest friend(s). While some of you also sent along a description of the friend(s) you are photographed with, I decided it would be much more meaningful to hear it from you rather than me relaying the message through the blog! With that in mind, enjoy some photographs of HLA readers with their friends...



Before signing off for the day, I would like to take a few minutes to honor the friend I have included in the slide show. My photo is the first one included in the slide show and in my picture is one of my best friends, Kristina. Kristina and I met in college while we both lived in Kennedy Hall at Bellarmine University. At first we only knew each other through association as she lived with one of my classmates in the Education program, but during our sophomore year we became instant friends. I love this picture because it perfectly captures our fun-loving, care-free, but loving friendship. Our favorite things to do include spending a weekend on her family's boat in the middle of Patoka Lake (in Indiana), sitting on the living room couch of her apartment talking and catching up until 4 am, and taking trips to downtown Louisville to play in the water fountains at odd hours of the night.

I love my friendship with Kristina because it is so natural and even if weeks pass where we are unable to talk to one another, it feels like not a day has passed when we do get to talk. There is never any pressure to be a "better friend", but instead a mutual understanding that we are so blessed to have one another. Kristina shows me the creativity in being spontaneous and getting out of my regular routine. She shows me the creativity of what can happen one day when I just decide to "let it go". It is this leap of faith and spontaneity that I am trying to include in my plans for the future, and I know that if it doesn't work out, Kristina will be one of the first people in line to help me figure things out from there.

What about all of you? What makes your friendship so special with the person you included in your photograph? If you were unable to submit a photograph, what photo would you have included and why is that friend so special to you?

Signing off until Monday with the song of the day...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Free For All Friday: Get the Ball Rolling

Happy Free For All Friday....

Week two of our fun new format. Check it out...





As promised in our video, below is information about how to get your own friendship ball rolling (no pun intended).


Here's the story behind the ball...

As in keeping with an old English tradition it is told how a special
favor is passed back and forth between friends, sisters, and mothers,
to be exchanged through the years as the occasion arises.

In any case use your imagination to fill the Friendship Ball and pass it
back and forth through the years continuing the tradition. In the spirit of
the countless ages before us, the timeless treasures are forever...the real
treasure is priceless - the gifts of love, forgiveness, grace, joy, peace,
and the treasures of friendship.


Send us a picture of you and a friend and then sign off until tomorrow....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You Can't Pick Your Friend's Nose

Good Thursday morning highlowaha, Heather here with the VERY difficult task of following yesterday's brainstorming session of good gift ideas for friends. As I was preparing to write this morning's blog the old saying about how friends are family you get to pick kept popping into my head. Unfortunately it also kept mixing with the saying, "You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can't pick your friend's nose." You see which one won out in my mind, I have to get past the "deep and heady" persona that has followed me this week.
The one thing that is true is that friends are the people we CHOOSE which means they must have a special place in our hearts. I'm a very friendly person...I get along with just about everyone and enjoy most people's company on some level. However, I have a very small circle of individuals I consider true friends and I value those friendships more than words can say. From listening to our readers yesterday it seems that many of you have those important "true" friends in your lives as well. So today is all about honoring those people, the ones that have hung with you through thick and thin.

As a kid growing up in the 80s I learned the craft of the friendship bracelet. The concept? Take some brightly colored thread safety pin it to the thigh of your pants and weave it together to form identical bracelets for your friends. The funny thing about those bracelets is that I remember making DOZENS of them!!!

Those bracelets became the focal point of my early junior high existence. You see it was easy to see who valued who as a friend.  Then of course the phenomenon spread to friendship jewelry that was store bought where you keep one and give the other to your best friend. I'm here today to encourage a rebirth of the friendship bracelet. No, I don't expect grown women to walk around with brightly colored thread on their wrists. But what happened to our childhood ability to recognize the people in our life that we chose? For some reason our friends are the people we EXPECT to be there, the people we use to make us happy, support us when we are sad, and experience every life moment with us and yet...we don't often take the time to recognize them or just say THANK YOU!!!

So here are three easy ways to gift a grown up version of the friendship bracelet:

#1: There are so many jewelry options out there I had to go with a REAL bracelet for my first suggestion. Starting at as little as $14.99 you can send your friend a bangle bracelet etched with a friendship sentiment that will serve as a reminder of your friendship each time they wear it. I'd recommend redenvelope.com as a good place to find a good quality bracelet for a friend.

#2: For those looking for a crafty or lower cost option of a gift to say thanks to your friends how about creating a fortune cookie box filled with fortunes that speak to how much you value your friendship. By cutting a circle out of a piece of foam or felt you can fold in half and glue the tip and fold in half again glueing just the tip to create a fortune cookie shape. Fill with your fortunes and put in a $1.49 fortune cookie box from Michael's and add a note that says, "Fortunate to have YOU as a friend".

#3: With the surge in popularity of social networking sites like Facebook it seems that many of us have reconnected with friends we once considered very important in our lives. It has been nice to see how these people are doing...if they have families, where they live, what they are up to in general. There are a few of them I'd like to rekindle a friendship with and more than just over facebook for them I recommend finding a photo of the two of you and turning it into your OWN photo postcard. Some of you may have received our photo postcard and it would be easy to make one of your own. Just pull together your pictures, drop them into Word, Photoshop, whatever and create a collage of images and send as a .jpg to your local photo processing place (Walgreens, Costco). Then attach it to a kimac with a message about how glad you are to have reconnected. At less than a $1 this is a great way to recognize as many friends as you want without breaking the bank.





Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

F. A. R. T.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for joining us on this fine Wednesday. Cheryl here. I have two big acts to follow this week. First Heather brought us to tears about savoring the moments of our life. And then Claudia had a fun day with our Fancy Flours Cookie Cutter Challenge. The mermaid was the winner. Yay! I can't wait to see how she's decorated. But today I'm here to announce that next Monday, June 8th is National Friendship Day. Be in this moment with me.

I could tell you about all the friendships that I have savored through the years with my best friends but that would take forever. If you're as fortunate as I have been then you have several best friends through the years. There was my very first friend, Cassie, that I wanted to be twins with. We dressed alike in our Tina Tomato and Lucy Lemon shirts. Or I could tell you about my Kristi that I watched scary movies with. There's her sister Johnanna. We were the wildest of friends. (I say "were" because I'm not wild anymore.) And there's DeDe and Darci and Angie and, and, and! I different friend for a different time in my life and I cherish them all.

I love my old and new friends and what better way to celebrate those friendships than by picking out something small to send them to let them know that you appreciate and love them. It's totally out of the blue and unexpected. But what? What are you going to send these people that stand by you no matter what? These people that have seen you cry the "ugly cry" and laughed until you had tears coming down your face and held your hair while you puked!

I'm all about making my friends laugh so what better way than to provide some fun napkins like the ones below. These say r.i.c.h. - Relax, it's cocktail hour, s.l.u.t.s. - Southern ladies up to something, and p.o.o.l. - Perfect outlook on life. Hop on over to Homewetbar.com to order some for your friends or shoot, give some to yourself. You can share them with your friends at your next party.

Or, another fun idea are these party cups. There are many to choose from over at Connexxions but these three are my favorites. Everyone fills in there fun saying for the chosen cup. These say:

  • It's not a party 'til _______
  • I'm gettin' my ________ on!
  • _______ by day _________ by night

Tell me those aren't fun. Do you want to take a shot at filling in the blanks? It could be fun.

Okay, but I understand you may not have time to place an order and get it sent off to your friend in time so what about this. You may or may not remember that Claudia collects things that are big. My aunt was having a birthday in February and I was thinking about what I could send her. Something inexpensive but something that would make an impression that said, "Hey, I think you're special." I was pondering Claudia's collection of all things big and thought of a Big Postcard.

I took a piece of poster board and cut it so that it was about 14 inches tall and 22 inches wide (the 22 inches is the short side of a regular sheet of poster board.) I pulled out the finger paints and let my creative boys go to town. JB started painting a picture of a girl that sort of resembled my aunt. She had blond hair. Drew drew a heart that said "Happy B-Day" in it. I started adding flowers all over. We called it Picasso's Birthday Girl. On the opposite side I wrote a big note that said Happy Birthday and put her address.

The workers at the post office laughed at me. The people in line laughed at me. Heck, I laughed at me standing in line with an over sized postcard painted with a funny looking girl on it. It cost about $1.5o to mail and it was worth every penny. My aunt called us and you could just tell by the laughter in her voice how much she loved it, which in turn made me very happy. You don't have to be an artist to do it. I promise! Just put some bright color paint on there and go for it- find your inner-childlike-artist. Surely you can remember that person.

I wish I could tell you I was more organized and that I had my over sized friendship postcards painted up and ready to go so you could see pictures but I don't have it done yet.
  • Poster board- check.
  • Paint- check.
  • Time- I won't let you slip away!
I still have some time since the actual day is on Monday, June 8th! And so do you!

Oh, are you wondering what my title, F.A.R.T. has to do with today's post? Just a fun game. Tell me what you think it stands for. It's about friends. Or make up your own fun acronym about friends and share it with us.

Will you do one more thing for me? Please. Will you email us a picture of you with a friend and tell us a quick story about that friend? It can be a friend from your childhood, a new friend, a friend that makes you laugh or just whatever you're in the mood for. Personally, I'd like to see you and your friend as kids but it's up to you. Just email it over to highlowaha218@gmail.com.

Before I go I just want to thank my newest friend Margaret for always sharing such fun times and ideas with me. She found the links to the fun napkins and cups. Thanks Margaret!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Green Eggs and Ham

No pressure.  Heather makes a sentimental post yesterday, setting water works in motion for a good majority of our readers and today I'm gonna talk cookie cutters.  Not just cookie cutters, mind you.  Cookie cutter and Big Green Eggs.  

Heather... deep and heady.  Me... shallow and with a ferocious sweet tooth.  

Yeah, sounds about right.

Today is the day of the month we partner with our visionary friends at Fancy Flours to select the object of June's Cookie Cutter Challenge.  Dana and other Highlowaha newbies, here's the quick run down on how this works...

Each month I select a holiday or special occasion worth celebrating.  Then, you the readers of Highlowaha, scour the selection of 600+ cookie cutters available at fancyflour.com (http://www.fancyflours.com/site/cookie-cutters.html) to choose the  cookie cutter you believe will pose the greatest challenge.  What do I mean by challenge?  I mean the cookie cutter shape LEAST related to the holiday we are celebrating.  If it were Halloween you might select a tulip or palm tree.  Christmas might yield a tractor.  And, for Valentine's Day you might vote Terradactyl.

Once the cookie cutter is decided (either by earning greatest number of votes or by random drawing), I set out to create a connection between my holiday and your cookie cutter.  I bake, decorate, and package up the cookies all before month's end.

April brought Earth Day and porcupines.  May was National Back Yard Games Week and big mouth bass fish.  So, what'll it be this month?  Only you know, so let's get to work.

First some background about the source of this month's holiday celebration.

My husband.  

My husband is a great man.  

My husband is a great man with a lot of interests.  

My husband is a great man with a lot of interests and a love of "equipment."  

If he wants to learn to play the guitar, first he's got to go out and get the fancy new guitar.  Fly fishing?  First he needs the rod, the reels, the waders, as sundry flies.  Triathlon training?  Books, sneakers, bikes, and athletic attire.  You get the gist.

My husband is into outdoor cooking.  We used to have a grill AND a smoker in our backyard.  That wasn't good enough.  Now we have a Big Green Egg.  The Green Egg is supposed the be the latest and greatest - the Radio Flyer - of all outdoor cooking devices.  I'd go into all the features, but your eyes would probably glaze over like mine did and, besides, amazing features isn't really the point of my story.

$1,149.99 is the point of my story.

No matter how you dice it, that's A LOT of money!  I could tell when first talking to Richard about the Big Green Egg that no amount of opposition or even reason was going to work.  The switch clicked in his brain and no matter what I said, that Green Egg was going to be his.  So, in a last ditch effort I declared, "Fine, but that is your Father's Day and birthday present all in one!"  What?  Was I crazy?  What the heck about Fourth of July, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Ground Hogs Day, and Easter too?!?  $1,149.99!  

Richard turns forty-one on June 29.  No matter how much I'd like to believe I'll dig in my heels and let the day go by without anything for him to open, I know I won't.

So save me.  Hook me up with a cookie cutter I can use to wish Richard a happy birthday.  Scour and vote now... http://www.fancyflours.com/site/cookie-cutters.html


Oh, and while we're on shallow topics... a quick poll of neighbors standing outside voted Cassie P. the winner of our Nail Polish Naming Contest.  Her suggestions... Pinky Pink, Go for the Gold, and Screaming Orange.  Cassie, I'm not sure what, but something foot-tastic will be on the way to you.

Signing off until tomorrow...