Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Scavenger Hunt 5 - The Final Countdown

Here are the last of my Scavenger Hunt photos:

#4 People Playing a Board Game - well it can't get more literal than this game of Human Chess at the Maryland Renaissance Festival!

#10 - A College or University.  This is Bucks County Community College (or rather PART of it) which is literally across the street from the development I live in... which explains why it took me so long to get this photo, right?
#11 - A cellular tower.  Another one that is across a different street from my development - near the high school property.  Looks ridiculously out of place.
#14 - A traffic signal.  Also within a half mile of my house. So why did I wait until the last day of the hunt to take these photos??? Beats me.
#21 Photo of me... Well, me taking a photo of me writing out my sign!
And that's it.  I got all 21 plus a couple of the alternates. And the rocking chair is coming....

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend

So how many of you out there in blog land have been waiting with baited breath to find out if I got my 30th anniversary diamonds?   Or had you just completely forgotten about it?

Well, wait no longer - yes, I did!

 I had been telling Jay for the last year that I wanted an anniversary band for our 30th anniversary.  He really didn't get it.  Shortly before our anniversary, he was offering to buy me a $100 vintage copper pot. Silly boy!

When I went to the shore in July with my sister Deanna, we scouted the jewelry stores. I fell in love with a blue topaz ring that reminded me of the color of sea glass at an expensive store up on the boardwalk. It was a gorgeous oval cut with lots of facets that reflected the light beautifully and was surrounded by tiny diamonds. Alas, not a very practical ring - the stone sat high and would catch on everything. It was more of a dress up ring than an everyday ring. And I really wanted an everyday ring.

We spotted this beauty at Artisan's Alcove in town.  Artisan's Alcove specializes in estate jewelry and this particular ring is from the 1920's in a vintage art deco style.  I love the filigree on the sides. The round center diamond sits low and is well protected by the setting.  I decided that if the ring was still there when our family went back to the shore in August, this would probably be the one.

Fast forward to August 16th, our first full day at the shore. Right after breakfast I dragged Jay to the shops in town.  The ring was still there! He didn't really even say much, just handed over his credit card. Luckily for both of us, this ring was very reasonably priced!
Getting a photo that really shows off the beauty of the ring was harder than I anticipated. This comes close.

It is funny, now that I have the ring, I am constantly moving it to my right hand. It just feels more comfortable and natural there. So now I'm thinking about having my original rings (engagement ring, wedding band, and wrap) resized so I can actually wear those too.  I've resized them before.  But consider this ... my ring finger was a size 4.5 when we married.  It's now an 8 or 8.25.  I guess it makes sense that I've had to resize more than once.  I don't think my fingers look fat... but numbers don't lie, right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

THRIVE - the Summer Review

WARNING - this a LONG post and very photo heavy at the end!

I'm trying to stay accountable to myself for the things I have set out to do. THRIVE is a big word. This is what thriving looked like in June, July, and August...

1. Read A Book:  Thanks to beach reading, I've totally knocked this one out of the park!  In June I finished THRIVE by Arianna Huffington, and two novels Heaven is for Real and Silver Siren.  In July I read Mad Dash by Patricia Gaffney and, on the recommendation of a website for Outlander fans, The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  Both were worthy novels. I have a couple more Kearsley novels on my "want to read" list.  I miss Outlander...  In August I finished off Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin (Karen's recommendation and I totally agree that I learned a bit about myself in the reading.  I'm clearly an Obliger and need someone outside myself to hold me accountable for my goals. The downside of being a people pleaser.) and four trashy summer romance novels.  I think it's a record for me!

2.  Try A New Recipe: In June I tried a crock pot pulled pork recipe.  In July, I contented myself with trying new things at restaurants. I can't remember a specific new recipe to have tried. In August, it was OMG Chicken.  Basically bake chicken with sour cream and parmesan cheese on top.  I didn't think it was all that OMG - more like meh. :)

3.  Declutter:  Can you say OVERACHIEVER?  This is the one area where I made huge progress. But if you look around my house, you can't see a single thing that looks less cluttered or more organized. How's that?  I spent the Summer working on decluttering my digital life. What did I actually accomplish?
  • Cleared out work email - from 581 MB down to 556 MB (nearly 500 MB of that is information on a legal matter that I am required to retain).
  • Cleared out home email - from 164 MB down to 118 MB (may not sound like much, but that is a LOT of deleted emails!)
  • Went through my yahoo email account.  It had gotten so unwieldy with junk mail that I hadn't touched it since March. I deleted over 1700 emails and unsubscribed from 46 different companies that were all sending me ads to buy more stuff... I don't need that temptation!
  • My downloads folder (temporary storage for all the digital supplies I buy). I hadn't unzipped and filed these purchases in nearly a year! I started with 41 gb of information represented by 25,613 files in 1,652 folders. I filed or deleted until this folder was down to ZERO!
  • My digiscrap supplies folder started at 135 GB represented by 73,545 files in 4,653 folders.  Then I ADDED most of the stuff from my downloads folder above.   I forgot to record the total at that point. Then I started going through and deleting supplies I would never use and consolidating folders.  I am currently at 105 GB represented by 63,966 files in 3,367 folders.  Given the 25,000 files I added at the outset, this means I've deleted nearly 35,000 files!  I'm not through the entire external drive yet, so this number should continue to trend downward. This has been a real lesson in how much INVISIBLE STUFF I own that hasn't been used yet.  It has really made me think hard about buying any more digital products!

4.  Complete An Unfinished Project:  See Decluttering Above. As much of a project as I can take on right now!

5. Improve Flexibility - I'm holding steady at 5" from the touching my toes.  (I was briefly at 4" but lost that advantage once my therapeutic massage stopped.)  I'm going to have to work a LOT harder to make any progress on this one.  

6. Scrapbooking - My Favorite Five - I'm tossing in the towel on this one.  I haven't done this since March.   

7.  Photography - I've been participating in Rinda's Summer Scavenger Hunt.  And I took tons of sunrise photos while on vacation. Otherwise, I haven't been doing much in the way of improving my photography skills.  Kim Klassen's class is still simmering on the back burner. 

8.  Art Journaling - The closest I've come to art of any kind in the last three months is making the Altered Art Bottles during the Summer of Color challenge.

9.  On the Wellness front - I started this year with such high hopes. This was going to be the year I would finally lose weight and kick my sugar addiction.  Instead I've struggled with a sudden and unexplained weight GAIN of twelve pounds over three months earlier in the year, constant hunger, erratic periods (which frankly I am too old to be dealing with!), and a lot of illness this year.  I joined a fitness class in June. In August, before my vacation, the teacher retired.  I'm still waiting for them to start a new class at a time I can actually attend.  My chiropractor just advised me that my insurance will no longer pay for my visits since I am on "maintenance."  Not sure how that works since my plan is supposed to have unlimited visits.   To say I am discouraged with my progress on the Wellness front would be an understatement.  But I'm not giving up. 

June documentation.

The OLW assignment was to write out answers to a progress questionnaire. I did it, scanned it, and added little photos of it in my planner.

July's OLW assignment was to add cards about songs that are speaking to us right now. I placed this in the June section because I had the space and they fit better than than in the July pockets.

June Gratitude Page

July documentation

Totally forgot I had completely cleaned up my craft space in July! :)

Shots from my trip to the shore with Deanna.

July Gratitude page.

August documentation.   What a month!!! That little bit of turquoise leather is from a new purse.

I had a banner week for steps while at the shore!

The OLW assignment for August was to document things we are grateful for.  Couldn't have picked a better month for this one!  Since I don't have a fancy cutting machine, I printed the Thankful title on regular printer paper and did some old fashioned fussy cutting.

August gratitude page.  And oh yeah - I cleaned out the freezer after the girls went back to school! Lots of really OLD stuff went in the trash.  Another project where the decluttering is pretty much hidden.

And there is my summer in a nutshell! I can't believe we are already halfway through September and it is already starting to feel like Autumn around here. I'm so not ready.   Are you???

Monday, August 31, 2015

Scavenger Hunt 4 - the Monday Wave Edition

I've been home from our family trip to the shore for nine days now... and I'm still catching up with my life!

Here are a few more scavenger hunt photos I managed during the month of August:

#6 A Metal Bridge.  This is the bridge connecting New Hope PA to Lambertville NJ. We cross it almost every week on our way to the Golden Nugget Flea Market.  The entire bridge is metal - even the road surface that you drive on. Which means it hums and vibrates as you are driving over it.  I hate it!

#18 - overloaded trash truck on the Boardwalk

#3 - A person walking a dog. 

Alternative A - People Eating Outside - my family at the Baia Restaurant (bayside in Somers Point NJ).  This was a covered deck with an open side and a great view of the bay (you can see the reflection of it in the windows behind them) 

#8 Someone "plugged in" to social media.  All three girls on their cell phones posting to Instagram and Snap Chat.  They are pretty good about leaving the phones alone during the meal. This was after dessert and we were just waiting for the check to be processed.

#13 A Carousel.  This one is at the Cape May County Zoo. No horses on this carousel - it is all zoo animals.

#18 Overloaded Car.  This is the back of my van loaded up with Becca's stuff for back to college.  It would have been far worse, but she was able to leave a lot of her stuff at Rachel's room over the Summer AND we took two cars, so the stuff Rachel was taking back (mostly clothing and toiletries) was in the other vehicle.  There was stuff in both middle seats and on the floor as well - Only the front driver and passenger seat left room for people!

So now the girls are all back at their respective homes away from home and I'm settling back into life here. Linking up with Rinda's Scavenger Hunt and waving hello to Sian and all the Monday wavers!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Me On Monday - the Anniversary Edition

THIRTY YEARS AGO TODAY... I married this man...
I was young, in love, naive, but pretty sure of myself...

Today we celebrate thirty years together...
(Okay this photo was two years ago, but I don't have anything more recent that is fit to be posted)

We usually don't make a big deal out of anniversaries, but I think after the disaster of our 25th, this one had to go better!
Yesterday he brought home a dozen red roses.

This morning he gave me a beautiful card.

I separated the flowers into two vases so I could have some in the kitchen and some in the office. I almost never get to enjoy flowers in my office!

(This counts as #1 A Bouquet of Flowers for Rinda's Scavenger Hunt).

Tonight we are going out to dinner. Trying out Bonefish Grill which is new to us.

My real "gift" will be purchased shortly.  The contemporary gift for a 30th wedding anniversary is diamonds. And I had an opportunity while in Ocean City with Deanna last month to do a little advance scouting... [to be continued]...

Waiving Hi to Sian and all the other Monday waivers.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Scavenger Hunt 3 - the retrieved photos

Having successfully retrieved my photos from my re-formatted SD card, I have these to add to my Scavenger Hunt finds:

# 5 Architectural Columns

Taken from the underside of the 14th Street fishing pier.  I've shot this before, but always facing the ocean. From a strictly composition perspective, it is a lot more interesting facing toward town.

#9 A tent:
 The tents where the umbrellas for beach rental are stored. And the big locked box to the left is where the beach chairs are stored.

Bring your own shade...

#17 Matching Uniforms:
It is always nice to see that our beach tag fees are being put to good use! Not sure if these are paid employees or folks doing community service.  Either way, I love how clean Ocean City beaches are.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Fish Tale

Public Service Announcement:  I reformat my SD card every time I download photos to my computer. After our trip to Ocean City, I accidentally did the reformat before I had downloaded the photos. I was so angry with myself. All those precious photos gone! Today I decided to google it to see if there was any way to retrieve them - a $39.95 software download from a company called Card Recovery and a few quick steps later - all those precious photos are back!  Just in case any of you ever accidentally reformat your SD card...

And now, on to my Fish Tale...

On the first morning at Ocean City, Deanna and I were up and out the door by 6:30 a.m., expensive cameras in hand (my Canon 60D, her Nikon), to walk the beach and take photos.  We didn't make it far when a woman called out that if we wanted a good photo opp there was a stingray stranded by the jetty.

First you have to understand that Deanna will tell you she likes animals more than people.  And she's a nurse, so she has a lot of sympathy for injured creatures.  And she's a scuba diver - she has been swimming with sharks and stingrays before. So she was a bit incensed that this woman was suggesting that a stranded fish was a good photo opp.

We walked over to the jetty where 3 or 4 people were milling around getting photos of the stingray and chasing it into even further shallows than it was already in. Nobody was making any attempt to save the poor thing.  We could immediately see that it had been scraped up quite a bit from being buffeted against the rocks. And it had no way to get back to the ocean as the tide had gone out, leaving bits of sand bars where there wasn't enough water for it to get over.

Deanna suggested we start from the other direction and walk behind it to force it back toward the ocean. So Deanna and I started shuffling through shin deep water and the stingray started moving back in the proper direction. Until we hit the first sand bar and the stingray wanted to turn around. The only way to keep it moving in the right direction was to literally push its fins over the sand bar. Deanna was holding the tail so it wouldn't sting.

This was at about the half-way point of the jetty and the first area where the water was too shallow to allow forward movement.  After the first few pushes, pink shirt lady jumped in to help (up til then she had just been taking photos).

I was juggling two expensive cameras and carrying my flip flops and Deanna's shoes, so I stepped back for a minute to get these shots.

 It was at this point that older guy on a bike stops by and says "Are you herding a stingray?"  Well yes, if we don't get it out of these shallows it will die.  And someone behind us says "Aren't you worried about getting stung?"  Um YES, but that is why every time we have to touch it Deanna is holding the tail!

And then bike guy wants to know aren't we worried about the cameras?  Well yes.  But we still want to help this poor creature. You know, priorities.  Once we got past this jutting out rock, pink shirt and bike guy stepped back and Deanna and I continued to herd and lift.  See how far up the next group of sticking out rocks is???

Well, it was when we finally got the sting ray that far that the water was deep enough for it to swim around the end of the jetty and out into the open ocean.  It took awhile before the poor thing was able to swim past the breaking waves. I imagine it was exhausted from being chased around the shallows of the jetty by camera wielding humans.  (I think the blobs in the foreground of several of these photos are my flip flops... too much stuff in my hands!!)

So that is how we began an amazing day at the shore. I actually touched a wild stingray! More than once!