Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ode to the Birthday Girl

Today is my darling sister/business partner's birthday!  It is a day to celebrate all things Ashley!

Artist extraordinaire, you create pretty pretty princesses and rainbow puppy storms
Snarkiness personified, you craft everyday moments into sarcastic works of art
Hipster mocker, you can turn anything into an "ironic statement"
Lovely sister, how on earth can you make your hair stay in the perfect artist's bun with a pencil?
Eccentric in a good way, you are a true original
Years go by and you continue to be an amazing sister, friend, and business partner!

Happy birthday, darling Ashley, and thank you for all you do!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Good Day

Okay, so today is blog post 51, which is a little anti-climactic.  Nevertheless, today is a beautiful day.  Since I want all of you to enjoy this day as well, I'll be brief and just share a short list of why today is a good day.

1.  It's my mother's birthday!  She's pretty much awesome, and I'm super glad she was born.
2.  Have you looked out the window?  It's gorgeous outside!
3.  It turns out I actually like waiting tables, and I'm making some money.  Who'd have guessed?
4.  JA Greetings was featured in the EtsyGreetings Team blog.  Take a look!
5.  A new shipment of coffee from Green Mountain was delivered.  Yay!

Enjoy the rest of this beautiful Tuesday!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bonus Edition: Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Weekend

Hello and happy Monday to you, dear readers!  I'm proud to announce that this is the 50th post of Greetings from the Edge of Reason!  To celebrate, I'm offering up a special edition of our most popular column, Heroes and Villains.  Read on to discover my picks for the greatest acts of heroism most dastardly deeds of the weekend!

Hero of the Weekend:  Fox
Fox just announced that despite moving the brilliant Fringe to the Friday night "death slot," they have picked up the show for a 4th season.  This announcement shows a surprising amount of faith in a show that, while critically acclaimed, doesn't have the highest ratings.  I'm not sure why it doesn't have high ratings since it has so many things to draw a viewer in:  Joshua Jackson (I've loved him since The Mighty Ducks), a mad scientist who is also a foodie, and a leading lady who does a killer Leonard Nimoy impersonation.  Since Fox has a history of cancelling superb shows, especially in the sci-fi genre (I still miss you, Firefly), I'm pleasantly surprised that the network is committing to at least one more season of solid storytelling.

*Honorable Mention:  Congrats to the VCU Rams for making it to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament!  Now people will actually know what Ashley is talking about when she mentions her alma mater.  

Villain of the Weekend:  Ni Hao Kai-Lan
I watched this cartoon with Jack this weekend, and I did not appreciate it.  I think it's awesome that it teaches children about Chinese language and culture, and I hope that most episodes also enforce good social skills.  However, the episode that I saw showed characters acting with a terrible sense of entitlement.  Three characters, Kai-Lan, a tiger, and an elephant, all worked together to build a dragon balloon.  Kai-Lan does something stupid and ruins the balloon so they have to start over.  The elephant, who is the only one tall enough to do most of the work, doesn't want to help a second time since he wasn't the one who knocked it over.  The tiger then guilt-trips the elephant into helping by chanting (and encouraging children at home to chant) "Help out!  Help out!  Help out!"  The elephant's assistance was never requested; it was demanded without so much as a "please" or "sorry I ruined the first balloon."  Now, I am all for team work and helping each other out.  Of course I think the elephant should have helped rebuild the stupid balloon.  However, I do not want Jack to grow up thinking that if his actions have inconvenient consequences that others are required to fix it for him.  If I tear my jacket, it's not okay to throw it at Ashley and say, "Sew this up now, because I'm in a hurry and it's cold outside."  For a show that is supposed to demonstrate sharing and caring, I would have expected characters who would respectfully ask for help.

I hope you enjoyed this special edition of Heros and Villains!  I'll be back tomorrow with our 51st blog post, which is somehow not quite as exciting.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #11

We've all made it through another week, and it's time to celebrate with another installment of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!  Since last week's villain pick was more controversial than I realized, I'm going to you dear readers a week to cool off before I select an actual person again!

Hero of the Week:  Netflix
If you've known me longer than 5 minutes, you know that I'd marry Netflix if it were a man.  I've discovered countless movies and TV shows that I love, and I was able to re-watch lots of things I loved as a child (Anyone else Avonlea on the Disney Channel?  Netflix has it!).  The new streaming-only plan allows me to watch as much as I want on my big pretty TV in HD for less than $10 a month.  Most impressively (at least to me since I used to work in customer service) is that anytime there an interruption in service, like a technical problem that causes decreased quality in streaming video, I get an apology email and a credit to my account before I even report a problem.  I also read an article that Netflix may start offering original programming, which I find amazing since there are way too many reality shows and too few programs with actual storytelling.  There is more to love all the time!

Villain of the Week:  Thunder
Gilbert hates thunder storms.  I'm not a huge fan at the moment either, because as Gilbert isn't potty trained, we both occasionally have to go out in them.  It is way not fun to be pelted with freezing cold rain and trying to calm down a spastic dog.  Every time there was a clap of thunder, he jumped amazingly high and bolted to the door.  After nearly ripping my shoulder out of it's socket pulling me back inside, he spent the next 40 minutes running in circles and banking off furniture.  I'm not sure how much excitement his poor heart can take!  I'm praying for a non-stormy spring so Gilbert doesn't break any bones (his or mine) while in freak-out mode.

That's all for this week.  Have a great weekend and check back next week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To Live Brightly

People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.  
~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Why is it that so many artists are only appreciated after they die?  Do their paintings magically transform from childish trivialities to classic works of art upon their passing?  Of course, this paradox isn't limited to visual arts.  One of my favorite movies, It's a Wonderful Life, was a box office flop when first released.  The heartwarming tale of a man who feels like a failure only became popular many years later when shown on television (it was only aired because it was the cheapest option for the network).  I have to wonder, did these men and women believe that one day their work would touch the hearts and minds of generations, spreading the light of joy and understanding and hope?  Or did they work for the simple joy of creating something beautiful?

I write a lot on this blog about wanting to be successful, to financially support myself doing something that I love.  But what I want even more than success (and you all know I want that like whoa!) is to live brightly
                         to glow from within
                         to smile genuinely
                         to laugh without volume control
                         to use humor as a band-aide rather than a weapon
                         to question unceasingly
                         to understand fully
                         to speak the truth always
                         to grow unimaginably
                         to love indiscriminately
                         to give unreservedly
                         to imagine the impossible
                         to create the inspirational.

This is my wish for myself and for all of you.  I know this post isn't snarky, and I'm sorry if your disappointed.  The snark will be back tomorrow with Heroes and Villains!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There Are No Rules for Singing in the Car

I love to sing in the car, although I feel sorry for anyone who has to listen to me.  Particularly when I'm driving late at night or early in the morning, I sing incredibly loud to keep myself awake.  Last year I drove from Charlottesville to Winchester almost every weekend and Gilbert rode shotgun.  I had to cover the entire passenger-side of the car with towels and sheets and put a broken-down cardboard box between his seat and mine, but we undertook many a road trip together.  Since I was usually driving after a long day at work, I would sing at the top of my lungs both to keep myself alert and to release some of the pent-up work-week stress.  Gilbert, already not a fan of car trips, peeked over the cardboard wall and looked at me like I was crazy.  I am totally crazy, but that is beside the point.  

The point is that there are no rules for singing in the car, which is what makes it so incredibly fun.  Singing on key is totally optional, and the original lyrics are just suggestions.  Of course, you can always fill in nonsense to commonly misunderstood lyrics, like "she's got a tick in her eye," and "there's a bathroom on the right."  It's also fun to completely rewrite the words to change the meaning of a song.  In high school, Ashley, our neighbor Maura, and I rewrote the lyrics to J.Lo's "Waiting for Tonight" to be about an impending mob hit.  It was pretty awesome.  

I hope that today everyone has a free, joyful, nonsense, loud and off-key kind of day.  Sing your little hearts out like Will Ferrell in Elf!  I know I will, which is probably why Jack pleads for "no songs" when he rides in the car with me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #10

I am sorry that my usual blog entry is a day late, but since I had a life that prevented my posting on time, I assume that my dear readers also have lives which kept the delay from being too disappointing.  So without further ado, here are this week's picks:

Daddio with Jack
Hero of the Week:  My Daddio (and the team with whom he traveled)
My dad has been in Colonet, Mexico this week with a team from our church supporting a local congregation.  They hosted game and movie nights and tried to encourage the people in any way possible.  I don't think my dad has studied a foreign language since high school, and then he took Latin, but spent weeks trying to learn as much Spanish as possible to be able to communicate effectively.  I'm not sure how many phrases he was able to learn or if he actually had to ask for directions to the library, but I admire his effort and his (and the other team members') willingness to give up his vacation time to serve others.

Villain of the Week:  Benjamin Franklin 
My cousin told me that Benjamin Franklin first suggested the implementation of Daylight Savings Time in the US, though the policy wasn't put into effect until much later.  Because of this asinine idea, he simply must be declared a villain.  Sure, he may have discovered electricity or whatever, but he also cost me an hour of sleep this week!  If it were just an hour I could get over it, but the whole time-change-extra-daylight thing completely throws off my whole schedule.  I haven't been able to get to sleep before 2 am all week!  Now the bags under my eyes are so pronounced that no amount of light-reflecting concealer can make me look alert and refreshed.  I am not a happy camper.  Benjy, I hope they take your face off the $100 bill!

That's all for this week.  I hope everyone has an awesome weekend and enjoys the gorgeous weather!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Smash into the Yellow Brick Wall

As I mentioned in my last entry, I really like to win.  Even more than that, I hate to lose.  I really hate it, in a way that causes me to break down into silent sobs of rage.  One of the things that frustrates me as a small business owner is that often it seems like I'm losing.  Ashley and I put tons of hours into these cards that we love, so when they don't sell right after we list them it feels like a defeat.  

You see, I like to thank of myself like Dorothy, and my business as the Land of Oz.  While overwhelmed at first, I quickly defeat the first evil witch (bureaucracy) and dance and sing with my new friends, Scarecrow (creativity), Tin Man (revenue), and Lion (public awareness).  Everything shines in glorious technicolor, and the worst obstacles we have to face are flying monkeys which are awesome and really just serve to keep things interesting.  We make our way down the Yellow Brick Road of success and financial independence, and then I get to live happily ever after with my dog and pretty red shoes.  

Needless to say, life isn't really like that.  Rather than following a brightly colored path to success, I seem to have smashed into a yellow brick wall (it's yellow to mock me with it's cheeriness).  Ads we've run have produced little results, and despite increasing the frequency of listing new cards and improving the quality of photography, site traffic continues to go down.  I'm running out of ideas.  It's pretty disheartening.

Nevertheless, like any plucky heroine, I shan't give up.  Maybe I'll take up rock climbing and learn how to scale that wall.  Or maybe I'll just sing an inspirational song.  Or maybe I'll take a nap in the poppy field first.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

I am super competitive.  This is the reason I did fairly well competing in debate in high school although I really hate confrontation;  I hate to be wrong and I hate to lose, so I go into attack mode when someone talks for 7 minutes about all of the ways I'm wrong.  I'm not proud of the side of me that comes out during competition, but it does push me to accomplish a lot.  

I am now in the midst of a competition.  My friend challenged me to a fitness competition for seven days leading up to a 5K we're both participating in this Saturday (btw, the 5K is at Skyline High School and all proceeds go to scholarships for first-generation college students.  If anyone in the area would like to participate, registration begins at 8am and the race begins at 9am on March 19th!).  Since she is as competitive as I am, there has been a little bit of trash talk going on.  It's all in good fun, of course, and we've called a truce, but it got me thinking about the art of trash talk.  

To clarify, I talk trash, not smack.  As The Office's Kelly Kapoor explained, "Trash talk is all hypothetical like 'Your Mama's so fat she could eat the internet' but smack talk is happening like right now, like you're ugly and I know it for a fact cause I got the evidence right there." My problem right now is that I'm trying to come up with some really clever trash talk sayings and I'm coming up blank!  I could really use your help, dear readers.  I hope that you all are as competitive as I am, because I will write an ode to whoever provides the best trash talk saying in the comments section below.  Let the games begin!  Please.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #9

Since it's Friday afternoon and the work week is officially over, it's time to crown this week's hero and villain.  This week's picks feature dashing (and some creepy) men and delicious surprises.  Read on!

Hero of the Week:  Nathan Fillion  
I think it's pretty obvious by this point that I'm a ginormous dork, and as such, I love sci-fi.  I'm particularly addicted to the works of Joss Whedon, because for serious, who doesn't love Buffy and Dr. Horrible?  It was during the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I was first introduced to Nathan Fillion (he was playing an evil preacher possessed by the First Evil who killed girls; super creepy!).  Of course, then I had to watch Firefly and Serenity, and Capt. Mal Reynolds was an absolutely amazing character.  Fillion went on to star in Waitress, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (as Captain Hammer), and is currently starring in Castle.  What I love about this actor is that each character he plays is so distinct; when I'm watching Castle, I never think he sounds like Mal Reynolds or vise versa.  But really the reason that he made the list this week is that I'm watching Firefly on Netflix.  It's a great show, and anyone who hasn't seen it already should.

Villain of the Week:  Monkey bread
Monkey break is so good it's dangerous.  Pieces of dough dipped in cinnamon and sugar, then drowned in a butter-cinnamon-sugar mix and baked to an ooey gooey caramelized perfection was nearly my undoing.  My friend baked some monkey bread for our glitter party this week, and I think I ate half the pan.  It's hard to be a grown-up and eat fruits and vegetables like I'm supposed to when presented with a delightful delicacy named after my favorite animal.  So to strip the amazing monkey bread of the power it has over me, I'm declaring it a villain.  So there!  (P.S. Courtney, you should really take this as a compliment!)

That's all for this week!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


The French have a saying, "Je suis crevé."  This means, "I'm exhausted," but it's the same phrase that's used to describe a flat tire.  I think this is so fitting because sometimes (and by sometimes I mean right now) feel like all of the air has been let out of me and I'm just a floppy mass of ugly rubber underneath a machine that weighs a ton.  Not that I'm complaining or anything!  

I think Ashley captured the deflated spirit of "crevé" perfectly in the artwork for our latest card.  Anyone who has ever sat around in a bathrobe because getting dressed just takes too much energy knows that sometimes trying to smile can physically hurt.  What is needed is a genuine reason to smile because that takes the sting out of moving those stubborn lip muscles.  For those of you who, like me, feel a little bit deflated today, here is something to cheer you up.  It made me laugh!   

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Dear "Aunt Gila,"

I asked Jack to use the potty recently and was rewarded with "What's your damage, Mommy?"
That may be hilariouse to you, an aunt, who can teach him things and then send him home, but I have to live with the consequences of your actions. Did you know that he could be sent to the principal's office for that kind of disrespect? For shame, Aunt Jamie, for shame! I want you to know that you will be the first on the list of those called to pick him up in that situation, as you are the root cause.

It is in the spirit of base revenge I tell you that I will be the "fun aunt" when you have children. I will teach them all kinds of delightful things meant to thrill your children and horrify you. How about art projects? Aunt Ashley is artistic, after all! I think papier mache might be a good place to start, don't you? We could papier mache all kinds of things, like couches, electronics, even household pets! And then we could paint them in oils.

Don't forget the glitter. No home is complete without a child's complete redecoration in glitter. It is your favorite medium, after all!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Box of Memories

Today I had the opportunity to attend a "glitter party" with a friend of mine--we ate homemade monkey bread and worked on decoupaging photo boxes with mementos from our trip to Singapore and Bali last year.  Since decoupaging involves a lot of waiting for glue to dry, my box is still a work in progress.  When I start sealing all of the pieces in place, I'm going to sprinkle the whole thing with green and gold glitter.  It's going to be so pretty!!  

I love the idea of a box to hold memorabilia that's also covered in it.  It's like one giant sparkly good memory.  The top of my box represents where I've already been, and the sides are going showcase places I'd like to go.  So really it's more of a memory/dream box.  

This is my first attempt at decoupage, but if it works out, I have big plans.  I'm going to make lovely crafty portfolios and card boxes with JA Greetings logos and designs on them so that I can look very professional at craft fairs and local shops.  I think I'm going to need lots of practice before I'm ready for that!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #8

It's been quite a week, and it's time to celebrate the ups and downs with another installment of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!

Hero of the Week:  Bubble wrap 
Contrary to Charlie Sheen's opinion, Charlie Sheen is not this week's hero.  Instead, that honor goes to bubble wrap.  I had to buy a huge role to ship my corrupted hard drive back to Western Digital without voiding the warranty since apparently packing peanuts are totally unacceptable.  I'm pretty psyched about the purchase, because bubble wrap is one of the most awesome things in the entire world.  The tiny pop-pop sound is perfect for stress relief, and you get a workout if you pop the bubbles by jumping on it like I do.  I have a bubble wrap app on my iPhone, and it just doesn't compare to the real thing.  Honest-to-goodness bubble wrap should be prescribed as an antidepressant.  Winning!

Villain of the Week:  The stink bug
The "stink bug" is a truly icky stomach virus that has been going around.  Thankfully, I have not fallen victim to it (knock on wood), but Ashley, Jack, and James were all quite sick this week.  When I talked to Jack on the phone today, he told me that he wanted to come over and play.  Then in his very most pitiful voice he said, "I can come play when I feel better."  I wanted to drive over and give him a hug, but the poor little thing is really germy.  I do not need to spread the stink bug any further! 

That's all for this week, but feel free to share your personal heroes villains in the comment section below.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More Feathers, Please!

As you all know, I learn quite a bit from my nephew Jack.  Well, his most recent revelation is quite disconcerting because it contradicts what I have believed for my whole life--namely, that two substances can be used to fix anything: duct tape and WD40.  According to Jack this is not the case.  Sometimes you need feathers.

During a recent visit, Jack climbed in my lap and looked at me very seriously.  "Aunt Jamie," he said, "I'm broken."

"Oh no, gilla!" I exclaimed.  "Can I fix you?"

"Yes!  I need feathers on my back!"  That solution would never have occurred to me, but the boy said he needed feathers.  It turns out that to add feathers to a toddler's back, you simply tickle him and say "feathers, feathers, feathers" over and over again.  Jack was quite pleased; he declared himself fixed, then had me remove the feathers and the process started again.

This exchange got me to thinking--besides wondering where Jack gets his ideas and hoping his mother warns him not to fly too close to the sun, I wondered what the world would be like if other such unconventional fixes could be applied to sticky situations.  Here is what I came up with:

--When you spill something sticky, just sprinkle glitter on it.  Then it's not a mess, it's a work of art.
--When someone is rude, paint his face yellow.  It's a cheery color, so he will be more pleasant.
--If you food is over/undercooked, hop up and down three times, then spin around in circle for five minutes.  When you sit down, you'll be too dizzy to care about your food.
--If a movie/book/TV show ends badly, assume the part of the main character for a day.  You can act out the ending you want.  However, it's very important that you don't tell anyone what you are doing; it would make the whole thing seem artificial.
--For a burn, spit into one cup of grass clippings, then use the clippings to stuff a pillow.  Rest the burned area on the pillow, and it should heal within 24 hours.

These are just a few of my ideas.  What are some of your ideas for unconventional solutions? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Need of a Melody

We just posted our very first Encouragement card!  To celebrate, and because I was teaching about music in Sunday School, today's blog will be entirely of song lyrics.

Lately you've been contemplating is this real or is it fading?
I don't know what I want, so don't ask me
Half of me is all about apathy and the other half just doesn't care
It's my life so it's mine to make
I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way
I set my clocks early because I know I'm always late
Without you I'm always 20 minutes late
1, 2, 3, take my hand and come with me
Mark me with ash until I'm clean again
Show me something gorgeous, show me till my eyes get tired
When I'm home I think I'll go eat cereal and stare out the window
We might just break up if I don't wake up to the sun
Just get away from the shady turf and baby go catch some rays on the sunny surf
Think I got a tan from the language I was basking
I'll watch the gleam in my eye shines off the spring in my step
A smile on my face and an air guitar rocking
You're like a rain cloud if it rained mushroom clouds
I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you
You gave my life direction
Don't you know, you're really going to be someone
You are my fire, the one desire
You were the last good thing about this part of town
You look inside my wild mind never knowing what you'll find
I've sung a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhyme
I'm poor, I'm starving, I'm flat broke, I've got no cash to spend
They say I've lost my Midas touch; what turned to gold now turns to rust
I'll carry a cross and a song where I don't belong
Bittersweet and strange finding you can change
Shaking my mind like an etch-a-sketch erasing
The whole world is moving and I'm standing still
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I'm so tired of the phone, baby
I'm still mad but I can't remember why
I wish you thought that I was dead
I think we've got what it takes to get this heart start beating again
It's hard to say what it is I see in you
I think about you all the time you're so addictive
Anyone can tell you think you know me well
We got older, but we're still young
I'm the Cusak on the lawn of your heart
I've found a way to make you smile

That could be a chart-topper if I used auto-tune, right?  If you're feeling a little down in spite of (or because of) my lovely ode, check out our new encouragement card at  My dog, Gilbert, is featured in one of the photos!