Memory Monday: 3rd grade

3rd grade

This was me in 3rd Grade at Wayland Alexander Elementary in Hartford, KY.

They had a special promotion with school pictures that you got these cute Valentine’s with little stickers to stick in place. I loved these Valentine’s soooo much. I think it kinda shows that I had an interest in illustration and design and that it appealed to me even back then.

In 3rd grade, I was at the pinnacle of my popularity. I know this seems silly, but you know how it goes as a kid. You really, really want to fit in and feel like people and the other kids like you. I remember getting invited to several birthday parties and sleepovers this year. I also remember having a little bond with all the little girls in my class. After this grade, things changed in a weird way…I started noticing that I wasn’t one of the cool kids anymore. I guess I was about 10 here and I’m figuring this is the age when kids start really noticing things like clothes, personalities, what is considered “cool”, etc. I figure that they start trying to act “cool” instead of being themselves. I guess my personality just didn’t jive with them after this age. I don’t know.

Some funny things I remember about 3rd grade?

– My teacher really liked me at this age. I remember I always had to stay longer after school, because my bus was the last school bus to arrive. I crawled around the floor picking up little scraps of paper and trash. I was her little helper. She was a strict/older teacher and a lot of the kids in my class ended up going to another school cause their parents didn’t want them in her class. I’m sure there was a lot more drama to it than that, but I was too little to really understand.

– Because my teacher liked me, she really wanted me to be in the ADK competition (an academic competition in my county for kids from the different schools) to represent my 3rd grade class. I remember that she wanted me to win for penmanship, so I had to write in cursive over and over a paragraph on that lined blue and red dashed penmanship paper (you know the kind). I kept having to do it over and over cause I kept making mistakes and creating big eraser marks. She showed it to the other teachers and they determined that I could go for penmanship. I had to go to the high school to participate in the ADK competition, and I ended up placing 2nd in my grade behind Josh Jones in the county. Do kids even practice cursive penmanship anymore?

– My parents purchased neon papers for their business and I thought it was the coolest thing! They let me have a few sheets and I would create name bookmarks (bubble letter style)for the other kids with it and sell them for 10¢ a piece. I remember that I really felt confident about doing them, but then I misspelled the name Nathan wrong on a book mark (I spelled it Nathen) and for some reason it mortified me and I stopped making them. I don’t know why I just didn’t redo it. I guess I was a bit socially weird at that age.

– The little girls in my class would go in the bathroom and socialize. Well, we would go in there and talk, primp, etc. and I remember I always sat on the edge of the ceramic sink basin. One day, another girl sat up on it and it totally fell off the wall and broke into a ton of little pieces. We were so freaked out and ran back into the class not saying a thing. I don’t remember anyone really questioning about it or getting in trouble for it. I’m really surprised we didn’t get recess taken away or something!

– Some girls in my class named Korey and Jessica had a joint b-day party at Korey’s house and I remember stressing over what I was going to get them (I used my own allowance for the gift). Anyway, I remember finally picked out 2 packages of pop beads like this at Bob’s IGA. That night, I remember staying up really late (for me that was midnight) watching Goonies. I seriously don’t know if I’ve seen that movie since.

– We would play “Heads up, Seven up” in class and I really took it seriously. I would put my head down, thumb up, and close my eyes so hard that I would see stars. It was almost a semi-blackout. I don’t remember ever picking the right person and getting to be the one that got to put down peoples thumbs (if you don’t know this game, here is the descriptor). I later realized that the only reason that kids got to go up and be the thumbs down people is because they cheated…didn’t close their eyes all the way and would notice the shoes of the kid that picked them. I guess I was all about the rules back then.

– I got several packs of Garbage Pail Kids and my mom didn’t think they were very appropriate, so she made me give them away. I gave them away to a red-headed boy named Erik (he actually had a crush on me). He had the biggest collection in class!

– I remember my parent’s went away for a business trip and that their assistant babysat my sisters and I. I thought this was sooooo cool. She stayed with us and let us stay up, watch movies at home (I saw the “questionable scene” in Purple Rain), and take us to movies in Owensboro at the Plaza Twin. I remember that we saw “Like Father, Like Son” with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains was huge at this time). I was so excited about this and bragged about it the next day to this girl named Kansas. I was always trying to impress her…I don’t really know why.

– My best friend was named Ashley and we both really loved Full House. I remember having long drawn-out conversations about the characters. We both had glasses and were pretty nerdy. I spent the night at her house a couple of times. I remember one time eating so many Milky Ways that I threw up on the bathroom rug. My mom had to come get me. I wasn’t used to eating that much junk food, so I got a major tummy ache. I also remember playing with Ashley and her neighborhood kids, which Kansas was the leader of. They wanted to walk across this huge field and go to Wal-mart. The field would have taken us over a mile to walk and was a lot further than Kansas said it would be. I remember feeling really uncomfortable and my stomach hurting because I was the only one saying that I didn’t want to go. Everyone in the end decided that we wouldn’t make the journey, but that was prob. my first major peer pressure experience.

– I really liked this boy named Blake and I thought he looked like a young “MacGyver”(which was also an addiction for me at the time). I remember that I was mortified at the thought of telling a boy I liked them, but my friend ended up asking him if he would “go with me”. He said he would if I didn’t tell anyone. I remember thinking that that was really lame and it hurt my feelings.

– I did end up getting asked to go with a boy named Jimmy in library during a movie (we watched a lot of movies like Apple Dumplin’ Gang, Bears at Yellowstone, etc.). I remember being really nervous about this and said I would. Later that night, my family went to a Just Say No Rally at the high school, where I saw him there and was totally mortified. I remember that at this Just Say No Rally, that this high schooler played The “Sesame Street Theme Song” on drums, which everyone thought was so awesome. In hindsight, I’m sure it was just ok. Anyway, we broke up the next day. It wouldn’t have worked anyway, we were both in different classes. Ha ha.

Here’s some other cute little Valentine’s I still have from my classmates.

3rd grade classmates

Hope you had fun reading all about my 3rd grade memories! What do you remember about 3rd grade? Please share!

Until next time Swellions!


Journaled Photo Mat + tutorial

worded mat project

So, this was supposed to go in Creative Techniques this past year and I was REALLY disappointed when it folded, cause this project was crafted by both me and my mom.
The frame above features a picture of my grandma along with writing that she wrote in a journal before she passed away. My mom gave this as a gift last year to her siblings in remembrance of my Grandma. She was a really special lady. She was my step-grandma, but she treated me just like one of her own.

This project was actually my mom’s concept and idea, I just helped bring it to life with a little Photoshop magic. This is a great idea for anyone wanting an inexpensive personalized gift this year. You can buy a frame with a mat for less than $5 and get a photo printed for around 25¢. With some basic crafty supplies, you can easily create this mat design and I’m here to tell you how!

– Frame with mat
– Scanned in journal, type, or image of choice
– Self-adhesive label stock (mine was fabric label stock, but you can use both)
– Exacto knife
– cutting matte
– Photoshop or photo editing software
– Inkjet or laserjet printer
– ornate label (or make your own using the shapes in Photoshop, that’s what I did)
– foam mount squares

1. Take apart a photo frame. Measure your mat (include opening in your overall measurements). Make your Photoshop document 1/4″ wider on all sides for bleed.

2. Open up your scanned journal writing or image. In my case, I opened up several pages of journal pages, placed each page in its own layer in my document, then rotated them around the page. You may want to measuer and make guides where the opening will be. That way, you can get crucial information into the matted frame area that might be important. You don’t want to print out your image only to find that that crucial part gets cut out!

3. Save, then flatten document. Copy and paste into a 8.5″ x 11″ page. Print through your inkjet or laserjet printer onto your label stock. Let dry for a few minutes to make sure the ink sets.

4. Peel off the label stock, line up, and place on the good side of the mat. Start at one corner and smooth to the other corner so that you won’t get air bubbles. Smooth out any wrinkles or pockets of air.


5. Using Exacto knife, cut at corner of opening 4 slits in the shape of an X.


Wrap each corner to back of mat and smooth out as shown.

Print out a decorative label onto cardstock or use a similar scrapbook label or embellishment to adorn your photo as shown. I actually elevated mine and made it look 3-dimensional by using sticky foam mount squares.

Add in photo and put frame back together.

Get creative with this. Here’s some more options for this mat!

– Use children’s drawings or handwriting for a special mat for mom.

– Scan in love letters and frame a picture of a couple. This could also make a sweet anniversary gift!

– Document an era of time in someone’s life! For example, scan in newspaper pictures and articles about them during their childhood. Put a picture of them in that frame from that time period!

– Scan in family recipes and feature a favorite pic of you and a loved one cooking in the kitchen.

– If you want to do something extra special, make or have a a custom mat made and feature a unique item shadowbox-style. Here’s an example of another mat featuring both my grandma and grandpa (their wedding picture). When my grandpa was in the navy, he would send my grandma a $2 bill in the mail each week for her to save. She actually had kept 3 of the original ones and those were given last year as Christmas gifts to the eldest grandchildren. I still got a frame, it just didn’t feature one of the original $2 bills. My mom was going to help my grandma do this as a project before she passed away; however my grandma passed away before they could work on it. My mom ended up making all of the frames for all the grandkids as a final gift that my grandma wanted everyone to have.

$2 frame

If you end up doing this project, I’d love to see your results! Oh, and don’t forget, tomorrow, I’ll be on the Trivial Thursday morning show on WRFL with Mick Jeffries. Check it out starting at 7am. If you don’t get this station, you can listen to it live from Itunes! Just click on the WRFL link and it will show you what to do 🙂

Until next time Swellions!


Until next time Swellions!

To be a kid again this Halloween…


So it’s not everyday you see kiddos on my blog, but this is an adorable pic of my niece and nephew, Brock and Taylor as a Pink Bunny and Indiana Jones! My mom the oh-so-talented seamstress made both of these costumes like she does every year for them. If this isn’t super cute, I don’t know what is!!!

I really hope they enjoy these years dressing up and trick or treating. Halloween is such a magical time in a child’s life. Even though you know I love Halloween and get excited by the smallest little thing, I miss the excitement I felt as a kid around this time of year. Little things like going trick or treating and rummaging through candy afterwards, getting to play games at a fall festival, and feeling the anticipation of a Halloween party at school, are things I look back fondly and wistfully on. Excitement back then was so pure and simple, but now adding on daily tasks and struggles weighs me down a lot, and I’m sure it does others too.

I really need to make it my goal to not get to overwhelmed by the Holiday that I don’t get to enjoy it. Maybe simple things like going on a ghost walk, eating pumpkin goods, and just sitting in the dark as my hot pink and orange lights glow is the thing I need to do to reconnect with that little girl I once was.

What are you going to do to reconnect with your inner child this Halloween?

Bozo & the Grand Prize Game

Here at the Swell Life, I don’t discuss the economic meltdown, rising gas prices, or the lack of universal healthcare like some folks do. In fact, I’m not voting for either of the major candidates in this critical election, I’m casting my ballot for an old favorite…Bozo the Clown!

bozo makes me smile

Well, not actually, but I had to throw in a little political talk, especially since I just watched the town hall debate…anyway…

I took this picture a few days ago at a flea mall and I did briefly wonder if I needed it, but I have so much stuff already and well, you know how it is.

I loved watching Bozo as a kid. We would have to sit in the library when we first got to school and this was always playing on WGN while we waited for the first class to begin. He was so NOT a creepy clown, he was warm and funny and genuine and I could even sense that as a child, which I’m sure was his appeal. I always thought He was really good with children, always bending down to their level and giving them a little side hug and encouragement when they were shy or embarrassed.

I remember how funny Bozo was as he razzed Cooky the clown and the other cast o’ characters. Here’s a pic of the Bozo and Cooky I remember:

MBC History_23

Oh, and here’s a great article about the Bozo show that enjoyed reading and I know you will too!

But the one thing that I recall and loved more than anything was the GRAND PRIZE GAME!

I thought this was the ultimate game as a kid. I just loved it and dreamed of being on the show and getting to play it. I loved watching Bozo reach into the big giant barrel of mailed-in letters and pull out an envelope of both at boy and girl at home that would get matching prizes of the players that played in the studio. I always thought I would send in really colorful and funky envelope littered with stickers that Bozo would just have to choose…something that would stand out from all the stark white envelopes in the barrel.

I loved when Bozo pulled out that ticket stub and chose a boy and girl from the audience to play the game, but admittedly, I was always disappointed when it was a little kid, like 2 or 3 that was randomly chosen from the audience. I knew that they weren’t capable of winning the grand prize and that it was going to be a really short round. I found this picture of Flickr user sleepoverjesus with Bozo on the Bozo show set (looks much smaller than I remember it being on TV). He got to actually play the game!!!

For anyone not familiar with the GRAND PRIZE GAME, it was a series of metal buckets in a line with the numbers 1-6 on them (I found this fun pic on Flickr of a replica…looks like it’s at a Chucky Cheese type venue). Contestants got just one chance to hit the first bucket, second bucket, and so on. Well, this was the case except when a little kid (the 2 or 3 year old I referenced above) missed the very first bucket. Bozo could let the kid go home empty handed. He always let them try again until they got their ping pong ball in the bucket.

The first prize would always be something like a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream pies and a pack of Topps baseball cards or the like. Usually Cookie the clown brought them out on a platter to show off, very Vanna-like. As the kid got their ping pong ball into each bucket, they got a better prize, anything from a cool action figure to a baby doll or a remote controlled car. But the GRAND PRIZE was always something really cool…a trip to Disney World or a Schwinn bicycle for them and the kid at home.

I rarely ever saw this achieved. As much as it seems like an easy concept, it really wasn’t. As ping pong balls do, they bounced up and down and all around. Occasionally the kids sank the ball into the bucket, but most of the time it hopped out and ended their turn. I think I only saw 1 boy actually win (how very Who wants to be a Millionaire of it!). I remember him jumping up and being so excited. I was excited too! Watching him hit that 6th bucket was like watching the winner being announced on Americana Idol. I was on pins and needles sitting Indian style in that library floor!

Just to let you know how nutty I really was about this game…I set up a version using tins and trash cans at home in my bedroom and used one of those little bouncy balls as my ping pong ball. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any cool prizes.

I actually went a few years ago to the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago and saw the props from the show and the GRAND PRIZE GAME in all it’s glory. Actually, it was stuffed in a room and it looked kinda sad. I really wish I was as photo happy as I am now, I would have gotten a picture for sure!

A couple of years ago, I saw this replica in a decor/kids mag and hmmm….I bet my nephews and niece would like to play it with me. I’d even let them keep it at my house!

Do you remember the Bozo Show and have fun Bozo memories to share??

The Nostalgic Kitchen

tupperware pitcher

I decided to make some sweet tea tonight and I pulled out my tried and true orange/red Tupperware pitcher. Somewhere through the years, this pitcher was passed down to me, probably switched out for a nicer, newer version. This pitcher is probably as old as me and has always been used for sweet tea and kool-aid. I vaguely recall a couple of tupperware parties as a child and I still love opening up my grandmother’s cabinet to reveal tupperware lids in graduated sizes hanging from a special tupperware lid holder (they matched her colorful assortment of nested plastic Tupperware). Nothing really much beats this. The only thing I can possibly think that would come close would be this. I can’t ever see myself giving this pitcher away.


I started to look in my kitchen for other items I remember from childhood that were passed down. Most of those items are long gone, but I do have a few. One of my favorite kitchen sets is my silverware. My mom gave me her old set and told me that she was given it as a wedding present in the late 60’s. I love how classic and modern it still looks and I still get compliments and questions on where I got it. I also have a lot of it. She must have gotten like 20 sets, so I guess I will never run out!

floral pan

This was a piece of a pot and pan set from the 80’s that I still have 3 pieces of. I can’t really say that I love it or find it pretty. It’s more campy to me now, but it is something I remember making hot dogs and chili in a log (I can thank my dad for making me that one and yes it was that bad!) back in the day.

blue glassware

These blue sundae glasses belonged to my biological mom who passed away when I was little. Several people have told me how much she loved them and I’m glad that it is something I still have. I have yet to use them for anything, though, and I feel like I really should at some point. They would be so sweet to use for a summer sundae bar. And if I had one of those, you better believe I would bring out the works…whip cream, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, all kinds of sauces. Just like the way I used to love to make them at Ponderosa! If that is the case, then I better add in gummy bears for good measure.

The only other kitchen dinnerware that I wish I had a few pieces of (I’m pretty sure my mom would give me some if I asked) were these Corelle avocado green lined floral plates…

I grew up with these plates

Actually, I ripped this image from Apartment Therapy and they had a great post on them that you should check out! Check it out here. I’m pretty confident if you are a 70’s or 80’s child like me you dined on these at one point or another.

Until next time Swellions. Have a happy, happy hump day!

All content/photos copyright, © Alexa L. Westerfield, 2008

Let’s here it for the toys…

Every now and then I think back on some of the things that used to be a part of my life. I think in general, it’s actually quite sad how easily we forget the things in our life that brought us so much joy. It’s funny how a picture or seeing a random image on a web site during a routine google search can bring back so many great memories. Today, I wanted to really do some searching and think back to my childhood and the things that brought be happiness. I didn’t have a lot of toys compared to what we see with kid’s these days (I always yearned for a Snoopy Slushie maker, Barbie dream house, Teddy Ruxspin, and actual “real” Cabbage patch kid…mine was homemade without the Xavier Roberts on the butt), but I wanted to share my thoughts on a few of my childhood treasures…

Peaches and Cream Barbie
peaches and cream barbie
I thought this Barbie was so beautiful. I loved her chiffon peach dress and the iridescent sparkle of her bustier. I think I actually ended up dying the hair on the doll pink with Kool-Aid (she suffered far less than the pretty brunette barbie I gave a mohawk to). I think she’s still in an old musty suitcase at my parent’s house and the dress tossed in there somewhere too. I should rescue her before anything might happen to her.

The Barbie Hair Twirler
hair twirl
I was in constant awe of this thing. I’d twirl Barbie’s hair, then my own, and back and forth. I think you could even add in ribbon to add a ribbon twirl. I do remember; however that the little clips would never stay shut and midway through a twirl, the hair would pop out and you’d have to start over.

The Popples
So technically, I never had an actual plush Popple, but I really wanted one. The closest thing I got to it was this lunchbox. Sad to say, it’s prob. rust in a landfill somewhere. This makes me sad.

Pop Beads
I guess this was my early foray into beading. These were always so much fun and I remember giving these to Jessica Wong and Korey Gray for their birthday (they were cheap too – my mom made me pick out the least inexpensive gift for the both of them) when we were in 3rd grade. It was a sleepover and I remember all the girls played with these things into the night as we watched the Goonies.

Rose Petal Place Daffodil and Rose Dolls
I had both of these dolls. They were very petite little plastic dolls and they actually smell like their respective flowers. I love the little sweet details in this yellow one’s dress and the rose on top of the other one’s head.

Other toys I remember having:

– Jem (her earrings never lit up and I lost a the plastic part that held the battery in place on her back so she had a huge hole in her back…also, she had the BIGGEST feet)

– My Little Pony Castle and Stable

– A purple cute bug that lit up that also smelled good. I would use it as a flashlight at night, though it didn’t emit that much light.

– A mini plastic care bear (I never had the plush kind)

– A ballerina Barbie knockoff on a pedestal that would spin around and do different moves. My cousin Bethany wore it out the first night that I got it and it never worked again.

There are a whole lot more toys out there that I had, but they elude me and even the best google search proved fruitless! Maybe one of these days I’ll stumble upon one of them and it will bring back another long lost memory!

Until next time Swellions!


When random thoughts collide…

About 30 minutes ago, I came up with a brilliant idea for a cool, trendy blog post. I actually thought I could hurriedly get it together on the fly and make it happen-article,project,step by steps and all, but sometimes, you just have to throw up your hands and say…it’s just not going to happen tonight. There are so many hours in the day and I am all outta juice. I’m sure most of you crafty folks have felt that way at sometime or another.

I did have some fun tonight…went with my boy to Chili’s where I got a yummy caribbean salad. We also talked about an array of very random things. We are two peas in a pod in that category. Not in any particular order, these are some of the topics that came up during our conversation…

gut buster
The Gut Buster
Does anyone else remember these crazy things? I remember being little and my parents owning one. I would try to do it in that situp motion that you would do, but half the time, I slipped my foot out and it came springing back at me. Jeremy told me he did the same, but it would also catch on his leg hairs and hurt. This has to go down in the worst fitness devices in history book (we’ll throw the Thighmaster, the hand grip from Over the Top, and anything with the name Tony Little on it in too, for good measure). I mean did people really think this thing would get them in shape? I bet you anything that numerous hospital visits were made because of this contraption.

A Gizmo riding around in the pink barbie car
Admittedly, I thought it was a Gremlin that rode around in the Barbie car, but nonetheless. I remember seeing this in the theatre and being so scared at the sight of the Gremlins that I had to go to the movie theatre next door and watch Red Dawn with my dad (at the time that was the most violent film of all time). I guess nuclear war didn’t have nothin’ on those hideous green menacing creatures!

The Smurf Big Wheel
My grandmother and grandfather bought these really cool wheels for me when I was 3 or 4. I wish I could say I had fond memories of it, but shortly after getting it, I ran Smurf-face into a tree. The smurf head cracked off and something else must have gone on with the wheel, because I have no other memories of riding that thing. I guess I can say I had one, huh? This just goes down on the long list of things I get blamed for “never taking care of”.

So, just wanted to leave a few of those fun thoughts with you today. Tomorrow I plan on showing off some featured photos as a part of my Lensday Wednesday feature I hope to keep going on a weekly basis.

Unti then, keep reaching for the stars, Swellions!