Friday, July 31, 2009

Free For All Friday: Boot Scootin' Boogie

T.G. I. F. Today we:
  • Bid Katie a farewell
  • Unveil the...
  • Warm up for the HLA Creativity Triathlon
  • Talk of two other HLA challenges
  • Make plenty of announcements,
  • and request your "free-for-alling" on two topics.
With no further ado, let the fun commence.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Now Departing: National Ice Cream Month

The moment many of you have been waiting for. One day left before bidding farewell, for another year, to National Ice Cream Month. Finally we are featuring July's celebratory cookie - compliments of Fancy Flours.

Background. Once a month Highlowaha partners with Fancy Flours to host a Cookie Cutter Challenge. I identify a holiday worth celebrating and you identify the cookie cutter I must incorporate into the celebration. It's a challenge, because many of you select the cookie cutter you think least likely or least related (i.e. National Ice Cream Month and airplanes, Richard's birthday and mermaids, Earth Day and porcupines). Once the cutter is identified, I have one month to make the cookies and "serve them up."

This month was a double challenge. Not only did I have to find the point of intersection between ice cream and planes, but I also need to construct (literally) the 3-D airplane cookies. Baking 3-D cookies are not for the faint of heart. In fact, I'd say the ideal resume of a 3-D cookie maker is part baker, part architect.

I haven't quit my day job, but still I'm pretty pleased with what I, and the rest of my flight crew, came up with. Take a look.

Now Departing: First Class Sundae!

You'll notice, we kept "decorating" to a minimum. Only the tips of the wings were dipped in chocolate. The cookie itself is so remarkable, we wanted to keep the main thing the main thing. Each cookie sat atop a mountain of ice cream surrounded by cumulus whipped cream clouds. Weather conditions changed as passengers showered their "plane" sundaes with crushed Oreos, coconut, sprinkles, nuts, or hot fudge.

For added touches, baggage tags served as napkin rings and boarding pass sleeves served as covers to our First Class Sundae invitations.

Two cookie tasks today.

First, win your own 3-D cookie cutter by making the winning suggestion (as judged by me, Cheryl, Heather, and Katie) for another occasion when you might use the airplane and the accompanying slogan.

Second. Help select the cookie cutter for next month. Theme?...

College campuses all around the country are gearing up to present their award winning orientation programs and welcome week activities to the class of 2013 (or so). I am sure there are impressive things happening everywhere, but the one program in the country I have the most fun following is the Orientation program at Bucknell University.

The Assistant Dean in charge of their program is one of the most visionary, most creative, and one of the biggest thinkers I know. Student staff at Bucknell must feel like they've returned to campus early, not only to selflessly serve new students for a week, but also to step foot into Disneyland. From theme to decorations, to leader treats, to table decorations, and promotional materials, there is no detail unattended.

Today we will gear up to celebrate Bucknell's orientation program. This year's theme? Tricky, that's what it is. The theme they will bring to life, under her leadership, is...

"O" Museum. She will transform portions of her campus to be exhibits of dinosaurs, air and space exhibits, a portrait gallery, and leader-created modern art. Maybe in early fall I will work with the Assistant Dean to feature pictures of her production. Then you can see the magnitude of what I'm so ineptly describing.

In the meantime... give me my cookie cutter. What's it going to be? Peruse the Fancy Flour museum of cookie cutters and find me the one you think I ought to have to use. Then tune in early next week to find out the winner.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Weaving

LURKERS:  Read on.  Today is a Part II of yesterday's Lurker Appreciation Day.  Frequent posters... there's something in it for everyone.  Stay tuned.

Creative idea
Edison's Whack on the Side of the Head 
Lurker Appreciation, continued, and
A challenge

Watch me attempt to weave these four things together.

Creative Idea 
How about using a beach ball as a fun way to learn more about family members at a reunion, friends at a cookout, or co-workers at a office retreat?  Throw the ball from one part of the circle to another answering whichever question is closest to your right pointer finger.  

We'll play in a minute.  First we have a few more items of business.

Edison's Whack on the Side of the Head
Lesson #4:  Knowing.  For the innovator, knowledge must not be an end in itself.  Creative knowledge means knowing the potential of many things - forces, components, design elements, and so on - so that these may be combined into new or improved devices.

Apparently Edison was more of a practitioner than he was a theorist.  He considered the elements used to build his devices more important than any book-learned grasp of theory.

What does that mean to us?  Concrete, specific, intimate knowledge of our lurkers is more important than what any psychology book might say about the motivation-theory involved in converting a lurker to a poster. 

Hold that thought.

Lurker Appreciation, continued.
Yesterday we used a simple poll to learn more about our lurkers. And, we did. I was surprised to learn so many of our readers are between 35-45 and that posts of general inspiration are second only to those of creative ideas. I was not surprised, however, to learn that 92% of our readers SHINE!

Lurkers, yesterday was a baby step.  Today, we're going to ask you to go one step further.  Below is a list of the questions written on the beach ball pictured above.  Close your eyes and, using your right pointer finger, pick a question.  Then, go to the comment section and give us a more concrete, specific, intimate look at who you are.

Item 4 of 4, before we get the fun of the questions.

A Challenge
Open space.  Anyone who has ever taken a counseling class knows that, sometimes getting a client to share means that you, the counselor, must become comfortable with the awkward silence.  Would the 27% who said "planning on it" and 7% who said, "just ask" feel more inclined to share if our regular posters created space for them?  You know, not jumping right in and dominating the comment section?

Let's try.  Before any of our regulars posters provide their answers to one of the questions, let's get at least one lurker to post his/her answer to a question in the comment section.

I'll even sweeten the pot.  For every post made AFTER the first lurker comes out of hiding, I will donate $1.00 to Highlowaha's philanthropy, Gift of 218. 

Below is the list of questions, compliments of reader Peggy who made me the beautiful book you see pictured above.

What are your hobbies?
Where was your high school and when did you graduate?
Favorite thing to do on the weekend?
What's your favorite holiday?
What are some of your favorite sayings?
What was the first album you ever bought?
What was the best trip you ever took?
What is your zodiac sign?
Have you ever saved anyone's life?
What is your favorite snack?
What was your first job?
How did you decide on your career?
Describe in details a place you really love.
I am...
What is your favorite quote?
What are you thankful for?
Which song do you sing in the shower?
What is the last book you read?
What are 5 things you want to learn to do?
Who knows you better than anyone?
What's your favorite aisle in Target?
How do you best relax?
Do you have any siblings?
What do you never get sick of?
If $$$ didn't matter what job/career would you go for?
What is 1 thing you could not live without?
What's your favorite game?
Who is your hero?

Phew, four items of business woven together into a single Whack on the Side of the Head.  I'm tired.  

Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are...

LURKER: /lurk 'er. noun, 1. Someone waiting in concealment.
Today is dedicated to Highlowaha lurkers! Not sure if I'm talking about you? How about this... If you're from any one of the places listed below or have never posted to our comment section, then chances are yes... I'm talking about you. You are the people who loyally show up, but who have never made your way to our comment section.

Wake Forest, NC; Cocoa, FL; Palo Alto, CA; La Mesa, CA; Poquoson, VA; Glen Oaks, NY; Billings, Montana; St. Louis, MO; Easton, CT; Colorado Spring, CO; Richardson, TX; Houston, TX; Mount Prospect, IL; or Bloomington, IL... among others!

Boone, NC, you used to be one of our favorite lurkers, but recently you posted twice. That now makes you one of our favorite new commenters.

Our blog is built as much on the concept of community as it is on creative ideas, so identifying readers who have never commented is, to us, like being a kid in a candy store. Wake Forest is chocolate, St. Louis is gob stoppers, Palo Alto gum balls, Poquoson jelly beans, and the list goes on. It's as though Katie, Heather, Cheryl, and I are seven years old, begging for one of everything!

We can't resist. We want so badly to know who you are what makes you tick. We also want you to know, that even though you forgo our comment section, we appreciate you tuning in when you do.


Today we're going to ask you to entertain the idea of gently... ever so slowly dipping one toe into the warmth of community and out of the impersonal, cold world of anonymity. Nothing drastic, just one small step.

Below is a six question poll. No writing, just clicking. Participating will allow us to get to know you better without you having to say anything. Venture out of lurker status just long enough to answer a few questions. If you're getting this via email, don't close the screen. Take a second - come on, tell us a little something about yourself. It'll be fun.
Loyal posters... Have no fear. Go directly to comments. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.00. Tell us about your first HLA comment.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hot Potato

One potato, two potato, three potato, four.  Misty's Dine by Design leaves us wanting more, more, more.

Newcomers to our community won't know, that earlier this summer we challenged willing readers to host Dine By Design gatherings at their homes.  The gatherings are meant to do two things.  First, they are meant to serve as fundraisers for Highlowaha's, Gift of 218 (our blog's philanthropy designed to provide memorable experiences to families who could otherwise never afford it).  Second, the gathering are meant to be venues for showcasing your creativity.

Loyal friend and reader, Misty fulfilled both goals, beautifully.   Today I will take a page out of Cheryl's playbook.  I'll let photographs from this weekend's event do the talking and inspiring.

First, some context.  In January, Misty invited me to a warm and cozy Potato Soup Party.  It was an invitation to hunker down with a fun group of women, to share a vat of award winning potato soup, and to enjoy casual conversation on a wide range of interesting topics.

Potato soup is great, but never in a million years did I think POTATOES interesting enough to serve as the leading lady in a Dine By Design gathering.  But, with Misty at the helm all things are possible.  Somehow she used nothing more than potatoes to serve as the inspiration for her Dine by Design Gathering.  Take a look. 

A true show stopper, look at Misty's centerpiece!  She made this flower arrangement using old potato chip bags.  Flowers were gathered and displayed in burlap bags donated by a local supermarket.

Using rustic-looking twine and clothespins, Misty strung a combination of burlap bags and empty potato chip bags to serve as festive garland!

Even the backs of chairs had makeshift covers.  And, notice the red bandanna table cloth.  Details, details, details...

The spread of food was every bit as impressive as the decorations made by Misty.  The clincher... a pot luck luncheon with every dish containing some form of potato! Dips, muffins, casseroles, salads, and more.  

Carb City, baby.  I loved it!
Here are a few dishes up close and personal...



And yes, even potato chip cookies (my personal favorite)!
Beverages were the only thing for which potatoes were not required.  Strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas flowed freely while this dynamic group of 14 women sat pool side, sharing stories and... being philanthropists to boot!  Each party goer paid $10.00 to attend and all tolled $145.00 was raised for Gift of 218.  All in a hard day's work.

So how about you?  Could you throw an entire party centered around something so seemingly banal as a potato?  If so, what might you add?  If not, what kind of party would you throw?  And while you're at it, why not go ahead and throw it?  Give it a whirl.  You'll have fun and a good cause will benefit.

Whose party will be featured next?  I can hardly wait to see. 

Signing off until tomorrow...  

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Open Forum

Thanks for taking a few minutes out from your day of rest and joining our open forum.  

If you're new to the community, we don't normally meet up on Sunday's.  It's our day of rejuvenation - the day we use to recharge and to enjoy our family and friends. 

Today we're meeting, though, because we want to continue a discussion that started about our Highlowaha community.  Last week readers commented on changes to our blog that they have been experiencing over the past couple of months.  Some like the changes, some don't.  Some demand more tangible ideas, others like the inspiration/think pieces.  Some cry fewer Rays, saying you don't "get" him.  Others say Ray actually makes you laugh until you cry.  Some suggest longer posts, yet others support shorter posts.  

You get the picture.

Opening the floor to feedback could be dangerous... not to mention humbling.  

Thing of it is, I have to.  Highlowaha is not just a web site of ideas or a daily blog where we talk AT you.  Our space is a community - each member entering into some kind of relationship or agreement with the rest of us.  You show up every day to read and (ideally contribute) and we're here waiting.  We're friends, expecting to meet up and to catch up. 

Communities are caring, safe, and responsive places where members feel valued and heard.  But, they are also places of great civility.  So, as you provide Heather, Cheryl, Katie, and me feedback, be constructive.  Tell us about your experience with Highlowaha and, if it's less than satisfactory, be sure to include some suggestions for improvement.

We'll check in throughout the day - looking, listening, and if appropriate, replying.

Thank again for showing up and giving us some of your time.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Messages, Messages Everywhere...

Stop and think.

Do the clothes you wear send a message to others? Being the fashionista clothes and shoes whore that I am my answer is OH YEAH! I covet my 3 inch strappy hills that make my pedicured feet look so sweet. I love that slimming khaki skirt that goes perfect with my button down classic pin stripe blue shirt. That perfect pair of jeans that go from dressed down to dressed up? They're a must have. I could go on and on about the clothes I love and what I think they say about me. Or at least what I hope they say about me at least until I open my mouth. But today our top is specifically about tshirts.

I love a great tshirt. A nice solid tshirt says your comfortable and easy going. You can dress it up with that khaki skirt and strappy sandals I was talking about or put it with your favorite jeans and flip flops and you're ready to go. But what about the printed tshirts. Do you ever stop and think about what the message says about you?

Let's take a look at some, shall we.

This one caught my eye due to our recent conversations. Her shirt tells everyone that she sees that her glass is half full.

This one doesn't say that she's positive. She's telling you to be positive. Check. Thanks for the reminder.

This one expresses her love for the good ol' USA.

Did he play in the 2007 Western District Playoffs or just watch the soccer games? Either way, I think he likes soccer.

This shirt says that she's prepared to work out. I don't think it says she likes to workout though.
Does this one say she likes ketchup?

She supports the Special Olympics in Texas. Maybe she participates...

Save Ferris indeed. A child that grew up in the 80's?
So what's your favorite printed tshirt? One of mine is a tshirt that says: Born Free. It's brown and pink with a tree and pink bird on it.

What would it say about you if you wore a shirt that says this:

Signing off until Monday...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Free For All Friday

One more thing about Ray's birthday. Then, we'll put a fork in his celebration for another year and get on with the business of watching our weekly video.

Newcomers to our site don't know that Highlowaha readers ascribe to the science of Colorstrology. For those who don't know, the book, Colorstrology, by Michele Bernhardt assigns a different color to every day of the year. You, in theory, should feel some affinity for the color assigned to your birth date.

My color is Languid Lavender (a color I very much like and for which I actually own a few items of clothing). Heather's birthday, only five days later, is Eggshell Blue. The colors and tones are completely different (and yet... she also owns a sweater of her exact color!). Point? There is no connection between months and colors assigned. One day could be Opaline Green and the very next could be Terra Cotta.

Ray's birthday landed on July 21, last year, by chance. It was National Tug of War day and seemed like the perfect occasion for selecting his name. That was the extent of thought given to it. We would never have known to engineer something "appropriate," since we could never have anticipated the life (and personality) Ray would take on.

I was curious to know, of the 365 colors and descriptions that could be his, which color was appointed to Ray's birthday. Ready?


Can you believe it? There's more. Listen to the description.

Amberglow: Magnificent, Different, Daring. If you were born on this day your mind is quick and alert. Everything about you tends to move more quickly than the rest of the world. You are highly dynamic and are not afraid to go where no man or woman has gone before. You can be entertaining and generous, especially with your energy.

All's right with the world, isn't it?

Now onto the video...

Signing off until tomorrow...

P.S. Ray's compatible birthdays are January 21, May 22, and May 16. Does your birthday fall on one of those days? Inquiring minds want to know.

P.P.S. Congratulations, Peggy for being the most clever and snarkiest of all! You win your very own Raysin in the Sun t-shirt (and bragging rights!).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Psst... Part II

Yup, still your turn.

If you're tuning in for the first time today, there's lots to know. The light bulb is Ray - our HLA friend. He's snarky, but lovable, a little direct, a lot sarcastic, and on a mission to spread his message around the globe... Shine (dammit).

Ray shines. With two feet, he jumps into whatever he is doing. Celebrating National Ice Cream Month? He transforms into StrawberRay. National Friendship Day... CompadRay. Thanksgiving... Rayflower. Writer... HemminRay. Baker... Sugar Ray. Surgeon... Ray's Anatomy. And the list goes on. Don't believe me? Click on the link to GalleRay.

AnyRay, his birthday was earlier this week and in true Ray form, we're still celebrating. Yesterday twenty of you "whacked" your thinking and took a crack at using the picture posted above to create your own name for Ray.

Impressive work. He'd be proud. GuadalupRay; SunRays; Summer VaRayation; MerRayly, MeRayly, MeRayly...; Rayver Rat; Sitting on the Dock of the Ray; Raysin in the Sun; and yes... even Anonymous's snarky suggestion of OveRayted... to name a few.

Today you get to embrace your inner Ray. Be the Ray you love to hate. Wordsmith one paragraph narrating the above picture - Ray style. We want to see your inner snark. Let your sarcasm and twisted sense of humor all hang out.

Start your paragraph off by restating the name you generated for Ray yesterday. None other than Ray himself will be judging which of you has the best overall entry (name + paragraph) and he's impatient. If he has to do the matchmaking, your entry will suffer. Sad but true.

Didn't submit an entry yesterday? Take a crack at both today.

As if we're not having enough fun here, we've thrown prizes into the mix. Complete challenges from yesterday and today and you will automatically earn a patch for your patchwork denim. Have Ray select your entry (name + paragraph) and win a limited edition t-shirt printed with the image and your winning name.

Fun, right?

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Psst... Whack This!

Your Turn!

We racked our brains trying to come up with the perfect Whack on the Side of the Head for Ray's birthday week.  Whack on the Side of the Head, for our newcomers, is the day of the week we challenge our creativity by forcing ourselves to think outside the box.  Our ideas were either too predictable, too self-serving, or not celebratory enough.

After some whacking of each other on the side of the side of the head, Heather, Cheryl, Katie, and I settled on using this Wednesday to let 

Name that Ray.

While it is true, we usually develop the idea for Ray first and then the design, today we're going in reverse.  

Above is our latest and greatest Ray design, inspired from a photo straight from the album of someone we all know and love.  Combine our design with your creativity and give Ray the most clever name you can come up with.

Enter a name today AND tune back in tomorrow and you automatically receive a special patch (for your patchwork denim) to commemorate Ray's birthday week.  Don't know what patchwork is?  Click here to find out.

But, should you out-perform your fellow readers in  this two-day event (today and tomorrow), you will be the recipient of a patch AND a prize that's sure to shine!  

Let 'er rip.

Signing off until tomorrow...

P.S.  Yesterday's winning design...  

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Ray

1,000,000 shirts by 2013, spreading Ray's message about the power of "Shine." That's our vision and we're sticking to it.

But first, great dialogue yesterday about Ray, the content of our blog, and the purpose of our community. Join me sometime this Sunday if you want to continue yesterday's discussion or if want to see what's on the mind of others. I'll open up the floor for discussion early Sunday morning and you chime in as interested. No rules. No structure. Just a simple dialogue among friends and stakeholders. Thanks again for your interest in our community. I hope to see you there.

So how are we going to do it? 100,000,000 shirts by 2013? Slow and steady and with lots of creativity and hard work on our part. That's how. We're starting with the simple goal of printing as many shirts as we can for $800.00. We'll sell the first run of shirts at cost and then use that money to print a second run of shirts. We'll sell the second run for profit and use the money from those sales to print a second design. On and on we'll go until slowly Ray builds a following of fans.

Shirts will appeal to anyone who shines or to anyone seeking the perfect gift for someone they know who shines. They'll go to friends, colleagues, neighbors, graduates, sons, daughters, honor roll students, and the baby sitter who takes such good care of your kids. Even groups can get in on the action by letting us custom design a Ray shirt for your soccer team, your walking club, your Bunco friends, or your favorite alumni reunion.

To get the ball rolling, we thought we would return to the very activity that got this party started - Tug of War.

Yes, Ray's birthday falls on the same day as National Tug of War Day. Newcomers to our site will be interested in knowing that Ray Wattson got his name, one year ago today, after a long and strenuous game of Virtual Tug of War. Want to know what names, other than Hal and Luigi, Ray was up against? Click here to see last year's post.

In honor of Ray and his birthday, I thought could tug over the inaugural Shine t-shirt design. Here's how it will work. We will have three brackets of tugging.

Bracket #1: Design 1 v. Design 2; 4:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Bracket #2: Design 3 v. Design 4, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Bracket #3: Winner Round 1 v. Winner Round 2; 2:00 p.m. - midnight CST

Here we go, Round #1...

Design A


Design B

Winner from Round #1 is.....Design B!!! Here we go for Round #2!

Design C

Design D
Okay, so the winner from Round # 2 was Design D! Here is our final round of the tug-of-war for today...Round #3!

Design B

Design D

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, July 20, 2009


If all you want is the creative idea promised here each day, then the next line is for you.  

Hosting a party?  Include name tags and do what employees at Sea World do.  Have each person list a descriptive moniker below his name.  My tag, for instance, might read, "Claudia, Starbucks Coffee Lover."  This allows strangers to strike up conversations more easily than they might otherwise.

Want to be a part of a movement that matters?  Than read on.  Warning:  This post is longer than those of recent past.  You won't be disappointed.

Ray Wattson celebrates his birthday tomorrow, but to me it's so much more.  The birth of Ray Wattson symbolizes the magic of people giving 100% of themselves - Raydiating, if you will.

Snarky Ray Wattson, our beloved light bulb, hit the scene because long-time reader, Peggy, had an idea.  She didn't say, "It's not my job to come up with ideas for Highlowaha.  That's Claudia's job."  No.  Instead,  Peggy raydiated creativity and decided to share it with the rest of us.  Then along comes another reader, raydiating artistic talent.  She volunteered to draw Ray for us and, some 30-odd Ray's later, Cheryl has literally brought Ray Wattson to life.  Are you catching my drift?  We should follow the example of Peggy and Cheryl, jumping in with both feet and raydiating excellence.

If what you do is have an attitude, then heck... raydiate attitude!  Such is the case with the person responsible for giving Ray voice (I could tell you who, but I'd have to kill you).  Think he pussy foots around?  Heck no.  When Ray is in the house, we know it.  The voice of Ray jumps in with two feet, raydiating attitude and making his presence known.  

Yeah.  To me, Ray, and the story behind Ray, symbolizes excellence... living life full throttle.

Then, in January, I met Jackie at a conference.  Immediately upon meeting Ray, Jackie fell head over heals in love.  He insisted that young people, college students, famous people, and old people alike would all universally fall in love with Ray if only given the chance to meet him. 

Hmmm... you mean, let Ray raydiate the globe instead of casting a narrow beam of light over our small, but distinguished community?

It seems so fitting.  Raydiate.  Full throttle.  No holds barred.  My wheels were turning.

January, February, March, April, May, June... every day thinking, dreaming, talking, hashing, and rehashing ideas for how to help Ray get out his word.

What exactly is his word? What is the single word that best summarizes the message we want Ray to carry with him across the globe?  

Raydiate?  Those who don't yet know Ray might wonder why we spelled it wrong.  Won't work.

Excellence?  Right sentiment, but trite and overused. 

Brighten?  Too soft and flowery.  Ray would never stand for it.

Someone suggested...." Whatever you are, be a beacon of it." Beacon = light = light bulb = Ray.  Getting closer, but too long. 

Why not ask Ray himself.  You know what he said?


That's what he said, "Shine" and immediately I fell in love.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  Whatever you do, "Shine."  

Hair dresser?  Shine at it.  Be the best hair dresser in your town, state, region, or country.  Are you a farmer, teacher, lawyer, painter, chef, stay-at-home-mom, tour guide, salesman, student, coach, babysitter, or accountant?  Whatever you are, whatever you do, whatever your contribution to this world we live in... Shine! 

Ray's seen the light.  He seen the work of Jake and Otis and the whole, "Life is Good" crew and he's willing to take them on.  He's willing to go head to head with a new message - a bigger, bolder message.  Sure, you could sit back relishing in the idea that life is good or you could join our Rayvolution to brighten the world and just SHINE!

So that's it people.  You heard it here first.  Ray is starting a Rayvolution.  He's taking his message on the road.  Sure, he'll remain our special Highlowaha friend, continuing to make his regular visits and with all his usual snarky comments.  But, he's got another gig going now too.

1,000,000,000 shirts by 2013.  Wanna see?  Check back tomorrow to find out more.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's Time for a Little RAYflection...

It is that time of the month when we celebrate our blog's namesake and the Spirit of 218 by taking time out of our busy schedules to reflect on our highs, lows, and ahas.

For any new readers you will soon learn that the 18th of every month has a special place in highlowaha history and so on this day we simply ask you to post your high (best thing) from the last month (June 18-July 18), your low (worst thing) from the month, and your Aha (something you learned) during the last month.

It is our belief that taking this time in reflection allows each of us to truly live the Spirit of 218 and refocus our energies for the coming month. It also allows us to grow our community as we get to know what makes our members tick as each takes the time to let us know a little about their life experiences through their high, low and aha statement.

Oh and there is, as usual, something in it for you. Post your high, low and aha in the comment section by 7pm on Sunday evening and be entered in the chance to win your very own Ray t-shirt. You can peruse the GalleRAY to see what options are available.

Alright, here we go, I'll start:

High: Having my Mom in town to visit for 10 days. It was great to see her play with Lily and it was amazing to come home everyday to a cleaner house than we left and dinner cooked and waiting. I'm not sure how she managed it but it was awesome. Also going on a date night with Richard and Claudia courtesy of Katie. It has been so long since we've been out of the house toddler free and it was nice to just relax and laugh with friends.

Low: Stress over some work related issues.

Aha: It is so important to take time for yourself, it is amazing how much that one night away from Lily reinvigorated us for the following few days.

Alright, those are mine and now it is your turn. I can't wait to see what our readers have been up to this month.

Signing off until Monday...(when we begin a VERY special week in highlowaha won't want to miss it so be sure to tune in!!!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Free For All Friday: On Location

T.G.I.F. to all our new and returning Highlowaha readers!

If you are visiting us, because you purchased (or received) a baked good from Children's Courtyard, in Grapevine, Texas, then click the video below to see if have a winning number. Instructions are included as to how to claim your prize. And, welcome to our fun community. We hope it will be your first of many visits.

If you are valued returner to Highlowaha then T.G.I.F. We made it through another fun week. Thanks for all the participation and for joining us in our celebration of National Ice Cream Week (...or as Ray would say, "Ice Cream Weak!" Curious to check out the winning sundae from Tuesday? Click below.

Chime in on something we talked about or share a Free For All topic of your own.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Piece Meal

Yeah, StrawberRay made the obligatory mention in Monday's post about National Puzzle Day and he even threw in a word search puzzle to appease me. Still, the whole thing felt kind of tongue in cheek - a mockery of sorts.

So, I'm back.

I'm back today revisiting puzzles... puzzles with ice cream and a cherry on top.

Matthew and I agreed it would be criminal to let National Ice Cream Month pass without hosting at least one neighborhood ice cream party. Immediately we set to work arranging the day, the time, and the invitation list. While it is true ice cream is fun in and of itself, we both agreed the party would we be made that much more fun with an invitation worthy of such an occasion.

Then it was outside to the garage where, together, Matthew, Jack, (Katie), and I painted large ice cream cones on white butcher paper. Once dry, we used markers to include all the necessary information.

Flip over the ice cream cone and draw puzzle shapes on the back. Cut out.
Load puzzle pieces into a mailing tube; a handmade, over sized envelope; an empty plastic container; or any other fun mailing "vessel" you can think of. Address, mail, and sit back, knowing you'll make someone smile AND that ice cream is in your future.

Yes to ice cream, but you have an even better invitation idea? Share. OR, like the invitation idea, but don't love ice cream? For what other event could you make a puzzle invitation and what shape would it be?

One more thought. The recipient of the invitation pictured above is a reader and sometimes-poster on highlowaha. Let's live the Spirit of 218 and treat her to some extra mail this week. Use the address listed above to send a fun note her way.

Signing off until tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Trend Conductor

First time reading? Dive in, stick with us, and soon enough you'll be a pro.

Today's whack comes in two parts. Patient while I set it up.

Part I. As a kid Edison was hard working. At the age of twelve he impressed a train station manager so much he was offered a job as factotum (servant with many responsibilities). An opportunist, Edison quickly took on an additional job as news butch (paper boy). Traveling by train was relatively new and reading the local newspaper while on board was desirable by most. But, a rolling stone gathers no moss. It didn't take long before Edison recognized people's interest in gathering local news and he began innovating. He introduced the novelty of printing the newspaper on board a moving train and was a hit among passengers!

Part II. History of an the ice cream cone. In the year 1904, St. Louis hosted the World's Fair. Hamwi, a Syrian concessionaire, was selling a crispy waffle-like pastry. The booth next to his was selling ice cream. Ice cream in the early 1900's was very popular, so it didn't take long for the vendor to run out of serving dishes. Hamwi saw an easy solution. He rolled one of his waffle-like pastries into the shape of a cone. The pastry cooled quickly and was soon filled with ice cream. Customers were happy and the ice cream cone was officially born.

Edison's Creative Principle: Innovation may begin by tracking a trend, but it succeeds by coming - in some significant way - to lead the very trend it originally tracks.

Edison did it by starting as a newspaper butch and quickly figuring out how to print his newspaper on board a moving train. Hamwi did it by noticing the growing trend towards ice cream consumption and innovating a new way for consumers to eat the popular dessert.

Now your turn. And, I'm really anxious to hear what you have to say.

Going green? The i-Phone? Chunky earrings? Trouser pants? Reality t.v.? What trend are you noticing and how can Highlowaha use it to lead the way?

Signing off until tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Calling All Torchbearers

The Director of Student Activities when I was working at Southern Methodist University was an amazing and inspiring woman. Think I'm exaggerating? I'm not.

So amazing and so inspiring is this woman that, of nearly 1.3 million people living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in 2002, she was one of very few people selected to be an Olympic torch bearer. Enough said.

When you walked in her expansive Student Activity Center, buzzing with motivated and empowered student leaders there was a beautifully made sign, the length of the wall, reading "We care most about that which we help to create."

It's true.

I, for instance, am not losing sleep over how big the turnout for Mean Green Field Day is at the University where I work. I'll attend, but that's it.

Do I care if American Airlines reaches their third quarter goals? Not really. I couldn't have any less to do with American's business planning activity.

Conversely, I'm hosting a bake sale at Matthew and Jack's preschool on Friday morning to support the organization Bake For America. I've recruited fourteen bakers, pre-sold baked goods to at least three families, and yesterday morning, launched a five day advertising campaign in the lobby where parents must pass each morning and afternoon.

The relationship between effort and investment is pretty indisputable.

Why do I mention this?

Today at 7:15 p.m., approximately 15 short hours from now, Heather, Cheryl, Katie, and I will meet at Baskin Robbins to tape Friday's Free For All video. We're going to splurge and share a decadent, over-the-top-sundae, in honor of National Ice Cream Month. The kind of sundae that would make Ray proud... or at least make him spew with sarcasm.

I want you to care about our sundae.

So, in the spirit of Arlene Manthey, torch bearer extraordinaire, I am going to have YOU create OUR sundae. Below is a five-question survey for you to answer. The first three questions allow you to select from Baskin-Robbins' 30+1 flavors of ice cream (minus a few because of my peanut allergy) and the other two questions are about toppings (dry and wet). Place one vote per question.

Whichever flavor from each question receives the most votes will serve as the base of our sundae. Then, the two wet toppings and three dry toppings receiving the most votes will top off our decadent dessert.

Got it? Show you care. Help create a sundae for Heather, Katie, Cheryl, and me. Vote now then tune in on Friday to find out the results.

P.S. Kat and Ray sitting in a tree K-I-SS-I-N-G. Kat is so in tune with Ray, she guessed that his favorite flavor of ice cream is CHOCOLATE. Congrats on winning the one and only printed edition of the Van-Choc-StrawberRay shirt. What do you think, does that make him boring or a lover of classics?

Signing off until tomorrow...

Monday, July 13, 2009


Psst. It's me again. Check me out. No I don't have the measles that's real fruit - quality stuff. If you're going to do something, go all the way. Be the ice cream. No artificial flavors or coloring. Just old fashioned goodness.

I'm supposed to be telling you today is National Puzzle Day. Instead of telling you about it, I'm going to let you solve one. See below. And, I'm not cheap so you won't be disappointed.

Now that I've satisfied my obligations to Claudia, let's talk about something sweet and cold and yummy. Ice cream. It's National Ice Cream Month. This seems fitting here in Texas where it has been and will continue to be above 100 degrees for far too long. I'm going to take it easy on all of you Goal-fishers and we're just going to celebrate ice cream for a week.

Anyway, National Ice Cream Month.....I mean weak. Get it weak? As in... you're all too weak to handle a month. You'd all be gigantic and then we'd have to listen to StingRay gloat. Stay focused people. Of course, we may well melt before we're done here but let's try to make it through the week. I can't wait to see what kind of madness awaits us. In the mean time Van, Choc, and I need to go chill out somewhere.

StrawberRay Out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

So there we were, standing in a cemetary...

If you're just tuning in, you may want to go back to yesterday's post to catch up. If you were here yesterday and came back for the conclusion, I thank you!

So after we got our directions from Heather, here's who we found:

Claudia found Sarah J. McCawley. She was 59 at the time of her death. Katie found Callie E. Cox. She was only 39 at the time of her death. That's my age. And I found Flora D. Cook. She was only 2 when she died. They all lived and died in the 1800's.

Is it serendipitous that we all landed where the tombstone in reach was marking the lives of women? Is it serendipitous that their ages at the time of death add up to 100 years? Who were these girls? Were they smart and beautiful, short or tall? Were they loved? Did they live a hard life? Were they happy? Were they creative?

Even though we have no idea who the Cox's were or who these ladies were, it felt magical to be there. It felt good to be there to honor those who came before us. Look ahead 200 years. Will our great, great, great grandchildren be walking around our tombstones wondering who we were and will they feel good to be there? Will they wonder if we lived our dash?

That's where Chaotic's Highlowaha suggestion of stopping 2 hours and 18 minutes into our trip led us and we're here to say live your dash. We're sure Sarah, Callie and even young little Flora lived there's.

All of that and we still haven't met Chaotic!

We made it to Austin with no problems. Delilah - Claudia's rusty trusty GPS- showed us the way. We met Chaotic and Karen for lunch at Guerrero's. We spotted Chaotic because she was wearing her Hemingray shirt and of course she was the only one taking a picture of us taking a picture of her!
We learned a lot of stuff about the ladies over our lunch. We learned a lot about snakes and their love of animals. Claudia and Chaotic shared war stories over teenagers. I took notes. Claudia wrote down lots of creative ideas that we hope to share with you in the future. We were even serenaded with the song Nicolado by the local mariachi.

After lunch we walked down Congress Ave to a place Claudia has taken us before. Virtually that is. Last year she wrote about Hey Cupcake and we found ourselves in line for the dreamy little bit of sugar goodness. It was SO good! Yum.

Then we walked back and the three of us started our journey home. Our very long, traffic filled journey home. There were a lot of deep breathes taken and a lot of searching for happy thoughts as Katie inched our way back up I-35. But hey- Life is a journey NOT a destination. And overall, our day was one full cup of fun!

Thank you for sharing your journey with us and for letting us share our journey with you! Happy Sunday to all. And those Hey Cupcakes were so dreamy and light, I was about to take off just like Mary Poppins!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Life is a Journey...

...and we were 4 bloggers with Austin as our destination! Cheryl here with the adventures of our visit to Austin. It's a long story so get your coffee, or beverage of choice, and get comfortable.

At the beginning of the summer Claudia, Katie, Heather and I decided that since all four of us were in the same place we should take a day trip down to Austin to meet loyal reader Chaotic. Chaotic found her way to us through loyal reader, BKRoot from another site they are both members of- Here is the power of the Internet- BKRoot posts a note about Highlowaha at Nervousness; Chaotic checks out BKRoots posted note and comes on over to Highlowaha. And the best part, she keeps coming back. And another best part- she lives in Texas.

We all checked our calendars which were full to the brim- overflowing actually. The business of summer vacations and family visitors in town eventually left Heather at home in DFW visiting with her mom. We missed you, Heather.

Our adventure began at 8:00 am on Sunday, July 5, 2009. And of course our first stop was Starbucks. In preparation for our trip, we had readers suggest times for us to perform magic. At the chosen suggested time, we the travellers would stop what we were doing and- and what? Well, we didn't know where we would be so we didn't know what we would be doing. We had several times to choose from but Chaotic completed some famous Highlowaha math suggesting we stopped 2 hours and 18 minutes into our trip. Since we left at 8:00 that gave us 10:18am. It seemed fitting.

So we settled into our drive with Katie in the Captain seat chatting about blog business discussing what we could come up to dazzle you. I, of course, got out my pen and paper and started counting Volkswagen Beetles. But that wasn't exciting enough so then I tried to get truckers to honk their horns for me. Let's continue...

I don't know if you know this about us but we are a serendipitous group. Let it happen. The integrity of the blog. Serendipity. So, as time was approaching we see a sign for an exit that has antique stores and shops at exit 323 but we decided we couldn't exit until 10:15am.
Exit 323 came and went.
Exit 322 came and went.
We're a little bit panicked now because what if there isn't another exit. What if we're just standing on the side of I-35 trying to count Volkswagen Beetles or begging 18 wheelers to honk their horns?

And then it happened.
Exit 319 straight ahead and it's 10:15am. Our designated time. We approach a road that has a sign that says "Cox Cemetery". That's it! We all are excited but there are no more signs to point us in the right direction. We hit a dead end! Time is ticking! We have to be there at 10:18. We drive the other direction and come to a road that looks like a back road to trouble. I'm pretty sure that's where crazed axe murders take their victims to neatly (or not so neatly) hide their limp dead bodies! There was a guy hanging out the door of his home- future axe murder? Gulp! I yell at him to ask for directions to the cemetery. He comes bounding up to the car with his axe and with an oily smile points us back down the road to trouble. [Insert scary scream hear.] (Okay, he didn't really have an axe and he looked like some normal Joe but you never know.)

We turn around AGAIN, and we're off-roading to no where. And then serendipity smacked us right in the face. There sits tucked away hiding from all the world the most wonderful, unkept, old cemetery with the most beautiful weather worn tombstones that I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot. I love old cemeteries. I'll let the pictures do the talking for a minute.

We wanted to use some Highlowaha random guidance so we called Heather to give us directions. We spread out and waited for how many steps we were supposed to take. We were climbing over tall, poky weeds and old, rusty iron fences and wildflowers trying to find our tombstone. We finally all land in a spot where we can all touch one.

But... You'll have to tune in tomorrow to see what we found and to hear the rest of the adventure when we finally get to Austin...

signing off until tomorrow... Yes, on Sunday!!