Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer of Color - Weeks 1 & 2

I'm participating in Kristin's Summer of Color Challenge for my third year.

I decided this year to do some 3D style mixed-media projects - specifically - altered bottle art.

I saw my first altered bottle at the Frisco Mercantile in April with Melissa. I was quite taken with the concept.  Since then I've been collecting bottles at flea markets for between 25 cents and about $3 a piece. I won't pay more than the $3 for a base for a project.  Anyway....

Week 1 - 2 blues + 1 green.  I chose a sapphire blue, a turquoise blue, and a lime green:

This took me awhile and I got side-tracked with a nasty summer head cold that's had me out of commission for about four days.  But I finally finished!

I used decoupage to adhere the lace and twine and used hot glue for the shells and beads. I actually bought a necklace at the flea market for $1 just so I could take it apart for the beads and charms!
 Here's a close up of the detail:
Week 2 - 2 pinks + 1 orange.  I chose baby pink, fuschia, and a bright coral-orange:

I'm not really sure about that fuschia ribbon at the top.  Help me decide!  Do you like it better with the ribbon....

Or without the ribbon???
Here's a close-up of the yummy detail.
Keep in mind, these bottles have been washed. But they are old and imperfect and I really like them that way!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

THRIVE - May Review

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 May...


1. Read A Book:  I read "The Silent Passage" by Gail Sheehy. It's an old book, probably somewhat out of date from a medical standpoint, but still an interesting read. And timely for me.  And just for fun, (thanks to a birthday gift from my sister Deanna) I snuck in "Looking For Alaska"  by John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars).  It was odd reading a book written from the point of view of a teenage boy, and I can't help but wonder if the author could have made the same point without the gratuitous teenage smoking and drinking to excess, but in the realm of Young Adult novels, this was  a decent read.

2.  Try A New Recipe: Well, let's say I created a new recipe - I really enjoy Panera Bread's Napa Almond Chicken Salad.  It's a basic chicken salad plus sliced almonds and halved red grapes.  So I consulted Google, read a dozen or so different recipes, and then made my own! Becca thought it was bland. I thought next time I'll skip the tarragon, which just wasn't the right flavor. But my family will eat chicken salad, so this is one I'll be tinkering with!

3.  Declutter:  There was no big easily defined project in May, but I did cull my Spring wardrobe down to about 1/2 of what I had owned and found it necessary to buy some new clothes. And I'm still working on the rest of the house. Bit by bit. Baby steps.

4.  Complete An Unfinished Project:  I'm counting finishing off three of the re-upholstered chair projects that had been started earlier in the year. I haven't made anymore progress on the School of Life albums because I haven't gotten back to digi scrapping yet.... maybe this month???

5. Improve Flexibility - No loss, no gain in May.  Just holding steady at 6" from the touching my toes.  I've lost the advantage I had gained from the therapeutic massage which my chiropractor is no longer willing to bill to my insurance.  Just means I'll have to try harder on my own!  

6. Scrapbooking - My Favorite Five - So what I indentified as a Favorite Five in this post back in March remain unscrapped at this point. Hey, I was busy painting and recovering chairs, remember? So they will remain on my list for June. 

7.  Photography - I'm slowly catching up with Kim Klassen's "Be Still" class.  The class is on Week 21. I'm on Week 19. I haven't done all the assignments, but I have read the information and watched the videos. And I've learned that in the future I need to avoid year-long classes with weekly assignments. I can manage monthly, but not weekly. So I'm learning. Classes with a shorter time commitment really work better for me. 

8.  Art Journaling - Truthfully, I still can't get anywhere near my craft table. So now, it hasn't happened and isn't likely to happen until we get this whole refinished furniture thing under control.

9.  On the Wellness front - During the month of May, I ate healthier and exercised more. And held steady on all the classic measurements of wellness - no loss, but no gain either.  

And here are the May pages from my One Little Word Planner:

 I thought it was quite appropriate that the pre-printed "don't forget" graphic pointed directly to my birthday!  And I was thrilled to be able to include the card I got from Karen! I was able to cut it down to fit without cutting out anything as all her writing inside was nicely centered!

 A couple of my best photos from May, along with a marvelous postcard from Miriam.
 The May assignment for One Little Word involved creating "I AM" statement cards. I decided to play with digital using the Studio Rosey Posey I AM kit. The timing of this kit coming out was perfect for this assignment and I really enjoyed creating the cards!


On tap for June:
  • I'll finish reading Thrive: The Third Metric by Arianna Huffington and participating in the companion online class through Oprah.com.  I joined in on this because it seemed to be perfectly aligned to my word. So far there hasn't been anything really new, just a lot of validation that I'm on the right path and doing the right things to care for myself!
  • I've just joined a Beginner Fitness class. My first time inside a "gym" since my Fibromyalgia diagnosis in September of 2011.  I'm in a class with women in their 60's, 70's, even 80's some of whom can run circles around me (okay, but I can hula hoop better than the rest of them!). The first class totally kicked my butt. But I've paid for 24 classes and I'm definitely going back!
  • My Tai Chi classes start back up in the second half of June. I'm looking forward to that!
  • I'll be participating in The Summer of Color 5 run by Kristin Van Valkenburg  Kristin provides color prompts. You choose your own media and do whatever projects you like using the weekly prompts. This will be my third year participating and I'm so excited to get started!  I haven't chosen my medium yet, but I'm hoping this will be the impetus I need to get started on at least one of a number of mixed media projects floating about in my brain.  
             The class is free. Care to join me???

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Remember When

Other than this blog, I don't "live" that many other places on the web. I have an Instagram account that I rarely use. I don't have a Twitter account. I'm on Facebook, but really limit my "friends" there to keep it manageable. If you want to know what's up in my life... this is where to find me!

So today I decided to go back to one of Cate's prompts that I missed earlier this week - tell a story from my childhood:

How many stories can you recall from one photo? From this one photo, I remember....

1. My 16th Birthday. This is me around my 16th birthday with my Mother, Sandy. I had met her when I was 9, but hadn't seen her again until this visit. We were living in Elmira N.Y. at the time. And I *think* it was this visit that cemented the friendship between my Mother and my Mom, Sue.  What did we do while she visited? I have NO idea! Memory is a fickle thing.

2.70's styles. The long straight hair parted in the center. Button front shirts (usually flannel) and blue jeans. Probably bell bottoms. And most likely I was wearing a pair of work boots with this outfit. I have no idea why we all thought this was fashionable. Ick. This style also did nothing to help me look my age. I look about 12(?) in this photo!

3. Piano Lessons. I wanted to learn to play piano. So Mom rented one from a local piano store and I took lessons. This was during a time when we were really poor (single Mom, 5 kids, trying to get herself through nursing school while on welfare) so I don't know how Mom found the money to pay for the rental and lessons or what she sacrificed to give me this experience, but I'm sure it wasn't easy for her. Unfortunately, either my piano teacher wasn't paying attention, or I was good at faking it because I never did learn to read music.  I would painstakingly count out the lines and spaces "ACEG" and "EGBDF" to figure out what key the little symbol wanted me to press and then I would memorize where my hands went and the progressions from one part of a piece to the next.  I learned to play Beethoven's "Fur Elise" quite well and loved playing it with feeling.  But I got frustrated when I couldn't master anything beyond that piece and eventually gave up. I ran into the same issues trying to learn acoustic guitar in college (well, I wasn't crazy about the sore fingers either). To this day, I still can't read music. But I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to bring the joy of playing music into my life.

linking up with Cate's Blog Every Day in May.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Blogging {Almost} Every Day

So, I haven't blogged  every day in May, but I have blogged most of them! What did I learn?


1. It's not realistic for me. With a full-time job and other interests, blogging every day simply isn't realistic for me. And that's okay. Sometimes life just gets in the way. When that happens, I'd rather LIVE my life than blog about it!

2. Prompts help. It's a lot easier to write working off a prompt.  Thanks for giving this month's blogging some structure Cate!

3. I still love blogging. I didn't complete every day, but the commitment to blogging this month really reignited my love of blogging and I hope to continue to be more present.

4. Batch processing is key. Having a bunch of photos pre-edited and ready for blogland makes it easier to actually sit and write the post. Because I just don't like my posts without photos!

5. Get ahead when the mood strikes.  When I had time and was in a writing mood, I did two or three posts at once and scheduled them for the days they needed to appear to match Cate's prompts. This allowed me to have fresh content on my blog even when I was busy with work or family.  When I didn't get ahead, weekend blogging just didn't happen. I don't spend much time at my computer on the weekends!

linking up with Cate's Blog Every Day in May

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Collections

I  used to collect pins from everywhere that I traveled.  I blogged about it here.



Once that trend ended, I didn't replace it with anything. I'm honestly not that big on souvenirs unless it is a really special trip.

There was a period of time when we collected beanie babies as a family. We all enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. Now we laugh about that illness and are glad we got out of it in time to break even when we sold off the bulk of our collection. There are still a few in a box in the attic...

Now it seems Jay and I are into collecting and restoring antique/vintage furniture and furnishings. Some are for our home. Some are for our future business.

This old music cabinet is one piece we bought for ourselves, probably about a year ago. It serves as a bedside table in our guest room and is tall enough to see the clock (added after this photo) when you are on the bed.

I love the cherry wood color.
I love the shape of the drawer.
I love the hardware.
I love that it is tall enough to be functional and that it has storage (although the bottom remains empty at this point).

I could share a lot more about this recent "collection" but I've discovered that I need to take some photos! I don't have many of these items photographed.

linking up with Cate's Blog Every Day in May.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend Wrap-Up and a Wave

For the holiday weekend here in the U.S., I made a conscious decision (yes, again) to spend the weekend mostly unplugged. Which means I gave my email a cursory glance each morning to see if there was anything requiring immediate response. Otherwise, I left Facebook and Blogland to do its thing while I did mine. Here's what my long weekend looked like:

1. Jay & I stopped working a little early on Friday and we went with Becca out to Roman Delight for dinner (Rachel was working).  Watched television in the evening.

And I did some laundry.

2. Saturday morning one of our local developments had their annual yard sale. The kind where you park and just walk up and down the blocks because there is really that much to see! And that is where we found this:

It's ugly as sin right now.  Someone painted it in a yellow/gold/brown faux finish that is hideous.  But it is solid wood, OLD, well-built, and we got it for $20.  Someday (not anytime really soon) it will be gorgeous again!

We visited a few other neighborhood yard sales, found some free wood pallets which were needed for #3 and had lunch at Panera Bread.

3. We rented a storage unit for the burgeoning pile of projects we have with our upcoming business venture (more on that in a future post!) and moved some of the projects we aren't getting to anytime soon there.

4. Saturday night we watched the last episode needed to bring us to "caught-up" status with the Game of Thrones series. Jay & I have binge watched all five seasons over the last couple months.

And I did some laundry.

5. Sunday - the girls wanted to go to the shore, but Jay & I were concerned that it would be overly crowded and not warm enough to spend the day laying on the beach. So Jay suggested Bushkill Falls. Who knew that the entire world would show up at Bushkill Falls on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a holiday weekend??!!

What should have been a 90 minute drive took well over 2 hours. You couldn't turn into the park - we ended up parking on the road outside the park and hiking in. Then we waited in line for about 30 minutes to get tickets.  Actually getting onto the trail was an exercise in patience. Numerous LARGE families in front of us just kept stopping in the middle of the walkway. Ultimately we did get onto the trail and we did climb hundreds of stairs

and see the falls and take pictures.

Rachel and Becca must have taken at least a hundred selfies!

What should have been a peaceful, relaxing nature hike turned out to be crowded and LOUD. The buzz of thousands of people speaking probably a dozen different languages managed to drown out the rush of the water over the falls! But we made the best of it. And learned a good lesson about holiday weekend travel.

6. Picked up some Boston Chicken on the drive home and rented American Sniper for the evening's entertainment.

And I did some laundry.

7. Monday morning Jay & I headed out early to check out Jake's Flea Market. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and it was lovely being out. Picked up a lot of little things - old tools, a counter height stool, a copper pot.  And stopped at the grocery store to pick up our Monday dinner fixings.

8. We spent Monday afternoon sanding, painting, upholstering - generally finishing up a few of the projects that have been in the works for awhile.
Jay forgot to take a "before" photo of this chair in it's original state which was a dark wood and really beat up. The before photo shows it with a coat of primer. I custom mixed the color for the chair to go with the fabric I had chosen. I really love the final look!

We have a pair of these chairs purchased with that red print just laid on top and underneath a stripe fabric that looked like a cat used it for a scratching post! The fabric in the after shot is actually a deeper teal color which I couldn't get to color correct from Jay's photo. But it looks great. Sarah has claimed these for her apartment!

9. We had grilled cheeseburgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, and fruit salad for dinner. With strawberry shortcake for dessert! Yum!

10. Between the flea market, grocery shopping, dinner fixing, and refinishing work, I had been on my feet all day. I collapsed onto the sofa at 8 p.m. to watch Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones on demand.

Oh, and I did some laundry!

And went to bed at 9:30.

Thus endeth my holiday weekend.

Waving hello to Sian and all the "Me on Monday" folks, albeit a little bit late.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Macaroni and Cheese

This macaroni and cheese recipe is a family favorite that I can make with my eyes closed. It is the same way my Mom used to make it when I was a kid. There were never leftovers then - and usually there aren't now either!  In the photo I used penne noodles only because we were out of macaroni that day - LOL - looks a little silly but tastes the same!
Print Recipe

Macaroni & Cheese


Source: family recipe
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Total Time: 45 Min
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Elbow Macaroni
  • 8 oz Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Organic Lowfat (1%) Milk
  • 2 tbsp Butter - Unsalted -
  • 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour 
  • 1 tsp Salt

Directions

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. cook macaroni according to package directions
  3. melt butter in small saucepan
  4. add flour and salt to create a paste
  5. add milk slowly to create cream sauce
  6. add cheese, stir until melted.
  7. Drain macaroni, pour into greased 13x9 baking pan
  8. Stir in cheese sauce, mix thoroughly
  9. Bake for 30 minutes (covered to keep it creamy, or uncovered if you like it crunchy on top)
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 linking up with Cate's Blog Every Day in May.