Saturday, May 29, 2010

49 Things (and a give-away in honor of my birthday)

*This birthday list was inspired by Cathy Zielski and Stacy Julian

Today I am 49.  Today is the first day of my last year of being "40 something."  Turning forty was okay - I'm wondering if I'll feel the same way in one year when I am turning 50, entering a new decade of life. Not sure. Ask me next year. :)  In the meantime, here is my list of 49 things that I know, that I believe, that I ponder.  Yes, I'm sharing the wisdom of the ages!  Most links are to prior blog posts where I expand on the idea or thought mentioned in the list.

1. Always wear sunscreen.
2. Be kind to yourself. And others. ALL others, without exception.
3. Brush and floss daily. It is that important.
4. Laughter is indeed the best medicine!
5. I am not a happy camper.
6. Naps are not just for toddlers. In fact, they may be entirely wasted on toddlers!
7. Happiness is a choice, not a destination.
8. Damaged toenails can take a VERY long time to regrow.
9. Silence is golden, but the sound of my childrens' laughter is PRICELESS.
10. LOST was one of the best television shows. Ever. I miss it.
11. Daily application of Cherry Softlips reduces the incidence of cold sores.
12. Exercise is not optional. It is vital.
13. Is my lucky number. Seriously.
14. But in the overall scheme of things, numbers (weight, age, etc.) don't really matter. Attitude does.
15. I love to blog.
16. I believe in life long learning.
17. I never cease to be amazed at how much I learn from other people's blogs. Thank you.
18. Live in the moment. Be present. Be aware.
19. Chocolate is a food group. Make sure to eat some every day.
20. Practice Gratitude.
21. We are all children of the Universe. We are all connected. And we are all in this together.
22. Everything is better in moderation. Even scrapbooking supplies.
23. And yet, you can never have too much toilet paper!
24. Reading is a fantastic way to escape into another world - temporarily. It's like a vacation from your life!
25. "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, either way you are right. " Henry Ford
26. Insomnia, headaches, inability to lose weight - all negative aspects of being perimenopausal. Can someone please tell me what the positive aspects are???
27. Sometimes you just have to see the humor in the absurd.
28. Motherhood is one of the most thankless, yet most gratifying, jobs available.
29. Happiness can be purchased at a garden center.
30. I am addicted to online classes. And sugar. Which reminds me... please join me in Picture Summer. It is sure to be a sweet class!
31. Laundry is one of those chores that is never finished. Accept it. Resistance is futile.
32. Above all else, be yourself.
33. Hard drive failure is inevitable. Back up!
34. I believe in abundance.
35. With all due respect to Kermit, I LOVE being GREEN!
36. Comfort is key when it comes to clothing. I am far too busy to be "designer."
37. Clutter sucks life away.
38. Perfection is highly over-rated.
39. "Because I said so" is an acceptable answer... only if you are a parent. But "if you don't stop crying, I'll give you a reason to cry" is never acceptable and is probably the stupidest thing a parent ever said to me.
40. The media-generated portrayal of beauty is a sham. An unobtainable, air-brushed, digitally enhanced lie. Told only to sucker us into buying products that are supposed to make us feel better about our imperfections. Be sure your daughters know this. I think maybe they should teach this in school, along with the "Just Say No" campaigns.
41. Teaching teenagers to drive is a parental right-of-passage. Thankfully, I have survived.
42. Cameras, once out of auto-mode, are a confusing and complicated piece of technology.
43. Barefoot is best. But maybe not in the snow?
44. I'm still waiting for the aliens to return my sweet daughters to me.
45. Validation is comforting.  Which probably explains why I adore comments on my blog!
46. When life blesses you with abundance, be sure to "pay it forward."

47. If you made it this far, you must really love me!
49. Life is Good.

In the spirit of paying it forward, and in honor of my birthday, I am giving one of my blog readers the gift of Brene Brown's "The Hustle for Worthiness" DVD. I won this DVD recently on Brene's blog. I watched it and would now love to pass it on. My hope being that whoever wins it, would watch it and then pass it on again.  Just leave me a comment and I'll announce a winner on Tuesday! I'll send it anywhere, so all my international friends can play too!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Get Out of Auto Mode - Week 2

I'm running a bit behind in this class - Week 3 started today and I just took my week 2 photos! Oh well, I'm trying. And technical difficulties did slow me up a bit.

Week 2 was to try "program mode" and "shutter priority".

Shutter priority was simply to compare a slow shutter speed (allows blur) to a fast shutter speed (freezes the action).  I don't have much in the way of "moving objects" to capture, so here's my ceiling fan - woo hoo!

with shutter speed set at 800, you would never know the fan was even moving when I snapped the picture!

With shutter speed set at 30, I got a good blur.  And because the shutter was open longer, the camera caught more light too.

I honestly don't have a clear idea what the purpose of program mode is - guess I need to go back and read the hand-out again. But here are my two best photos:

This is a ground cover flowe in a shady area of our shrub bed.  Had fun trying to get this at ground level.
And yes, I'll admit to being a little obsessed with my hibiscus plant. But the flowers do make for pretty photos and now I'm learning all the different settings I can use to capture them!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Stuff & A Too-Close-For-Comfort Experience

1. Mel's blog hop was fantastic! It took me nearly two hours on Saturday morning to make the rounds and leave comments on all the blogs, but I loved seeing all the different interpretations of the "All About Me" theme. I also had 28 comments on my post from Saturday which is an all-time record for me! Thank you to everyone who stopped by and left me some love - I appreciate it more than you will ever know.

2.  I am mourning the end of one of the BEST SHOWS EVER on television. And I'm still "LOST". I think the ending was open to a lot of interpretation. I'll probably be watching it again on demand when DH is ready to see it. Did any of you think it tied up all the loose ends?

3. One of my Week in the Life layouts is featured over on Ali Edwards' blog today! How exciting is that ?

4. My birthday is this coming Saturday. That's fodder for a whole different post. But it is relevant to my next random entry. And I wanted to let everyone know in advance, just in case you wanted to get me a present!  Ha - JK!

5. I am also mourning the unexpected and highly untimely death of my digi-friend and constant companion, my 120 GB Portable External Hard Drive.

I was at a Crop on Saturday, working on a digi layout for "The Street Where You Live." I tried to save the layout in progress and my computer hung for a while, then I got a "timed out" message. Never saw that before. I tried saving again. This time I got a "name not valid" message (which in computer speak means the computer did not recognize the drive I was trying to save the .psd file to). So I clicked over to ACDSee - and all of my files were EMPTY! GONE! I tried rebooting the computer. Nothing. I tried a full shut down, unplug everything, restart it all. Nothing.

By this time I was panicked, but still thought possibly it was the computer rather than the drive. Of course it meant my day at the crop was spent internet surfing instead of scrapbooking - not the productive day I was looking forward to. And I honestly felt lost. Naked. I told the Universe that I could deal with the loss of my beloved EHD if the files were salvagable. Of course, I would prefer that it is all a terrible joke and the drive works just fine. Maybe it is just the stupid laptop, right? I came home. Plugged the EHD into my desk top computer. Nothing. Not a blip. Call the time of death.

But surely, you are by now thinking to yourself, being the good scrapbooker that you are, you have everything backed up and you've only lost today's work, right?  WRONG! You see, my dear EHD was NOT. BACKED. UP. ANYWHERE. Even though every image I've ever shot since going digi, every digi paper and element I've purchased, every layout I've ever made, including all the ones I have NOT had printed since last ummm October, and my ACDSee database with all my tagging information to date is stored on this drive. And I have nobody to blame but myself.

This is where the aforementioned birthday comes into play. I knew the lack of a back-up system was a potential issue. So I had asked for a 500 GB EHD for my birthday. With the intention that I would migrate all my working files to the new EHD and use my current (now dead) EHD for back-up purposes. I had the best of intentions. Truly. But my EHD went and died a week too soon. Kind of a cruel twist of fate.

Luckily my DH is a geek and he works with geeks. So after obsessing for the last two days over all I had potentially lost, today DH took the corpse to work with him to see if my precious files could be saved. He was giving me 50/50 odds and did not want to give me false hope. But hope was all I had to hang onto. The initial report was that they had tried "all the usual" utilities, but with no luck. So they tried another and I was told that it could take all night to run before they would know. It's like waiting for a friend to come out of surgery. Pacing the floor. Unable to focus. A real nail biter. 

A bit ago DH emailed to say "Good News!" The utility worked and they were able to recover what looks like all my files!  Hallelujah!  I am sooooooooo relieved that the Universe saw fit to grant my files a second life and I promise I will take better care in the future.  This experience was far too close for comfort and once I have the restored files in place, my first order of business will be to BACK UP all my files. Then order prints of all completed layouts - no more waiting!

And to send out a friendly reminder to all my friends who store digital photos or digital scrapbooking on their computers... Have YOU backed up lately?????

Saturday, May 22, 2010

This is ME - a blog hop

Mel over at I Speak Melsh set up this dandy little blog hop. Everyone involved has used the free "All About Me" class from Big Picture Scrapbooking as the basis for a project and we'll all be sharing our individual take on the project. If you've come here from Jools blog, welcome! Glad to have you hop on in! I love to have readers and love sharing my photos and scrapbooking projects, and the occasional meandering thought here. If you are starting here and want to see the entire round of projects, I'll give you the link at the end of this post to the next stop on the hop. Or you can go back to Mel's site and start from the beginning!

So without further ado, this is ME....

front cover, followed by many of the multi-page spreads in my accordian style album.

back cover

I need to reprint this one photo. I changed up where I was having a bit of my journaling appear. The photo as it will appear in the finished product is below.

When you are done here, head on over to Curiouser and Curiouser for the next stop on the hop! But please feel free to leave me a little love first! :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Get Out of Auto Mode

For my BPS class "Get Out of Auto Mode", our assignments this week seem to focus on trying the different presets on your camera.  Note - this is using my Canon Rebel DSLR.  It is an old one and only 6.3 mp whereas my Canon PowerShot is 7.1 mp, so it'll be interesting to see what I come up with using the supposedly "better" camera. My biggest issue right now is our weather has been very grey and lighting is terrible for getting decent photos.  That said, my first round of comparisons:

Meet Sarah, my oldest, now home from college for the Summer and ready for a job interview. Isn't she adorable?  On the left, shot in auto mode, on the right shot in portrait mode.  Portrait mode definitely brightened up the picture, but also left the color a bit off.

The hibiscus plant. On the left, auto mode, on the right close-up mode. Close up mode definitely results in better background blurring.  But I've been using this mode with my point and shoot, so I'm familiar with it already.

A view of our neighborhood shot in auto mode.

Same view, landscape mode.  Honestly not sure I see any discernable difference. Maybe more definition in the clouds?  These are SOOC, hence the darkness - it really is that overcast today.

Running water. On left, shot in auto mode. On right, shot in action mode.  And is it any wonder why I shoot in auto mode? The auto mode photo has the correct color and IMHO catches the flow of the water better. The action mode has put a yellow cast to the photo and smoothed out the water flow. Don't love it at all.

I still need to get a night shot to finish out this week's assignments and "next week" starts Thursday - eeek! 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around

In the game of tag, you may be a free spirit one moment and the next you're "it" again. Just like that. In this round of blog tag, Kai tagged me back!  Here are the questions she wants me to answer:

1 - What’s in your garden, and if nothing, why not?

We planted dahlias, lillies and snapdragons a few weeks ago. This past weekend we added some new azaleas.  And we have two pots of impatiens on the front porch.
2 – What’s your favorite retro era and why?
The seventies. I came of age in the seventies. I loved disco. It's what I know best.
3 – What’s your favorite thing to do for pure entertainment (e.g. see the Opera, movies, have some beer at a pub with your friends, etc.)
Watch t.v. or rented movies at home (couch potato style) or scrapbook
4 – Do you have pets? If yes, what kind and why do you have them? If no, why not?
Yes, two cats - Ashley and Kira. We have cats because our lifestyle is not conducive to owning a dog, although DH and the girls would love to have one.
5 – You have a secret. Does it eat at you and you have a hard time keeping it in, or does it settle well and it’s safe with you forever?
I'm good at keeping secrets and once I have them, I tend to just file them away and not think about it.
6 – If you could have professional help in any way, what would it be (e.g. professional landscapers, professional cleaning crew, professional chef, etc.) and why?
I'd love a personal chef to make all the meals so I never have to cook again. But I'd also love a personal trainer to get this body into shape! Can I have two?
7 – What one actor or actress, still alive, would you want to have a private dinner with and why?
The first one that comes to mind is Antonio Banderas - because I always thought he was sexy and I love his accent. Haven't seen him in anything in awhile though - he's probably gone and gotten "old" on me!
8 – You are behind a locked door, perfectly safe for as long as you need to be. Something on the other side of the door gives you a weird feeling… a little scary, a little exciting… makes the hair on your skin stand on end, you don’t know if it’s good or bad. Would you open the door and confront it, or would you stay behind the door forever? (Deep one, huh?)
This depends.  Are my kids with me? What about my husband? When Jay is around, I let him take on the scary stuff like mice and spiders. But if he's not here, I've been known to step up to a challenge - like the time I caught a bat with just garden gloves on and released it outside, while my girls hid in the garage. They wouldn't come in the house until I got rid of it. When the maternal instinct kicks in, all bets are off.
9 – If you could go back in your past and change one single thing within your power to change, what would it be?
Despite having a less-than-stellar childhood, I wouldn't change it. I am who I am today because of the way I grew up. The only thing I ever totally regretted was one time (at age 19) where I stuck my nose in an issue that was no business of mine and hurt my closest friend in the process. I would take that back if I could. On the other hand, it was a life lesson well learned and a mistake not repeated since.
10 – What’s your favorite dessert? Please, be descriptive. :) I have a sweet tooth today.
I have a wicked sweet tooth and it is hard to pick ONE favorite. I've always loved hot fudge brownie sundaes, or mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundaes. Also chocolate chip cookies (warm from the oven is best) and brownies. Oh, and dark chocolate.  I see a pattern - basically CHOCOLATE!

Kai has been kind enough to let me off the hook for tagging more blog friends, but if you'd like to answer a question or two, please feel free to do so in the comments!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weekly Gratitude - This One's For YOU!

I have a question...

I've been tagged by Mel to answer the following questions:

image source
1. Where in the world did you spend your most memorable day ever, and what did you do?

This is a tough one - I have a load of extremely memorable days. My wedding (Elmira NY), the days my girls were born (Grand View Hospital, Sellersville PA), our trip to Hawaii, when I walked in the Philadelphia Breast Cancer 3Day (Philadelphia PA). I honestly can't single one of those out and say it was the "most memorable day ever"
2. What is your favourite time of year, and why?
Definitely Spring! I love the season of rebirth - watching all the trees and flowers come back to life, the warming temperatures, being able to come out of winter hibernation and enjoy the outdoors again, fresh strawberries in the market, and my birthday!
Christmas time runs a close second. What I love about Christmas is that for a short period of time people just seem to be nicer and more considerate.

3. What is your favourite time of day, and why?
The hours that Rachel & Becca are in school! Seriously, I love my kids, but I need my alone time to function.
4. What food would you find it very hard to do without?
Pizza. Because it gets me out of cooking every Friday night!
5. What colour makes you feel happiest?
blues and greens, separately and in combination - sage, teal, aqua, spring green, turquoise - oh yeah.
6. What's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to you? (Or the most recent nice thing?)
The most recent nice thing that comes to mind - in an email someone said to me : "You're such a mom"  In context it was very complimentary and just made me smile.
7. What's the nicest thing you've ever said to anyone else? (Or the most recent nice thing?)
I have no idea how to judge this. It would be up to the recipient to decide I think. So dear blog readers, what is the nicest thing I've ever said to you???
8. Who would be guest of honour at your dream dinner party?
This didn't specify that the guest of honor had to be living. So the answer is, without any hesitation, my Mom. What I wouldn't give to spend just one more day with her.
9. What's your favourite bird?
Penguin? Well, they are cute anyway.
10. What word or phrase do you find yourself over-using?
"well" "okay" "so" - I have a frustrating tendency to use these at the beginning of every sentence - in a manner that is totally unnecessary to the context of the sentence - just useless keystrokes. You can see examples in 7, 8, and 9 above. Ugh.

Now it is my turn to ask ten new questions and tag some friends. Realizing (following this back) that a bunch of my bloggy friends have already been tagged and I don't want to add to your burdens, I'm trying to tag friends that I don't think have been hit yet.  So Kelly, Kai, Cheryl, Jan, Photographing Mom and Sandy - You've been tagged!  Any of my other bloggy friends are invited to answer one or more of these questions in the comments (or add another set of questions & answers to your blog!).

1. What is your happy color?
2. What one product could you live without but wouldn't want to?
3. What is your guilty pleasure?
4. If you could travel anyplace in the world, where would you want to go and why?
5. Favorite t.v. show?
6. You have 24 hours of free time with no expectations, no work, no cleaning, no fixing meals, just free time. How will you spend it?
7. You are being given the gift of one super-power (think cartoon characters - flying, xray vision, super strength, etc.). What super-power do you choose and why?
8. Favorite quote? (I collect quotes, so this one is important!)
9. Describe one of your funniest/silliest/most embarassing moments?
10. Optimist or Pessimist? Be honest.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Set it Sunday

Take a Second Glantz

Last Week's Goals:
1. Gym three times. Including Zumba on Wednesday and Yoga on Thursday. done.
2. Create 1 each Gratitude and Art Journal layouts. NOT done.
3. More work on tagging photos or digi elements or processing photos. done.
4. Sew and hang curtain in office. NOT done.
5. Create layout #2 for The Street Where You Live. NOT done.
6. Create at least two more mixed photo layouts from Week in the Life. done. In fact, FINISHED!
7. Get clothing donations logged, packed, & to GoodWill (want it OUT of my house!) done.
8. Get the deck swept. done.

So that is like 62%. In other words, a fail for the week. But I am happy with what I did accomplish and life goes on. You just never know when other activities are going to take precedence. This week I'm not even listing the curtain. I know it won't happen. Too much else going on!

This Week's Goals:
1. Gym three times. Including Zumba on Wednesday.
2. Create 1 each Gratitude and Art Journal layouts.
3. More work on tagging photos or digi elements or processing photos.
4. Create layout #2 for The Street Where You Live.
5. Do all homework assignments for the First Week of "Get Out of Auto Mode"
6. Make a dr. appt. for Sarah.
7. Find some way to pack/hide all the excess "stuff" Sarah brought home from college on Friday. I don't want to look at it all Summer! :)  Apparently neither does she, since she doesn't want it in her room.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Super quick post of idea lifted from Mel's blog. Go to your images - find the 8th folder, 8th image in the folder.  Here is what I found:

Rachel feeding the ducks at Menlo Park, November 2002.  Now this child is finishing her sophomore year in high school.  Wow, time flies.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oh My! I'm a WINNER!

Some of you already know that Scrapbooking From the Inside Out had a sweet little blog hop on Tuesday and on Wednesday I got an email saying I had won this:
It is SFTIO's May Kit "Anticipation" and it looks fabulous.  Can't wait to play!

Well today I popped into my Big Picture Scrapbooking account and I see a class in my current class list that I didn't recall signing up for. I had been thinking about it, but I didn't think I actually had. So I checked my email BPS folder. No, I didn't sign up for it.... Wait, did I enter a blog give-away for that class?  So, hop on over to the BPS blog Scrap Big - scroll down a bit - and sure enough - I see this:

We interrupt Stacy's page a day picks for an important posted!

Ok…I’m a little late posting these. Please forgive me. I’ve been a little distracted working on some summer promotional fun we have planned. Here with out further delay are the winners:

Get Great Pictures with Any Camera:

“I love to photograph plants. They don't move, lol!”
Posted by: Thayer

Get Out of Auto Mode

“I love Elisha Snow and BPS and I want to Get Out of Auto Mode.”
Posted by: Cheri Andrews

Oh My!  I wanted to take the class, but decided to wait and instead enrolled in Picture Summer which begins July 1st.  And since I knew I couldn't wait until July 1st, I also enrolled in Your Life: Captured Through The Lens over at Get it Scrapped which runs May 26 through June 30.  So I figured I would be very busy with my camera soon enough.  I never thought I'd win the spot in Get Out of Auto Mode which begins TODAY (*yikes*) and runs through June 9.  Guess I'll have some overlapping classes now!  Wow, need to go get to work!

My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Scrapbooking From the Inside Out and Big Picture Scrapbooking for supporting my habit! :)

Week in The Life - Days 6 & 7

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day & the Deck - Part Deux

Having purchased a few pieces, we were now on a mission to finish off the deck.  We spent most of Saturday going from store to store.  At a garden center up near Allentown, we fell in love with a rectangular table top gas fire pit with a granite top.  But at a price tag in the thousands, it was not to be.  We've been toying with whether to add a fire pit or not. We've also been trying to decide whether we want/need a dining set since we NEVER eat on the deck anyway (too many bugs).  The last time the rusted out grey set was used was two summers ago for Sarah's graduation party - and at that time it was brand new.  We've seen a few dining sets we liked okay if we were willing to spend in the range of $2000.  (Who knew outdoor furniture could be so pricey???) But nothing that we've fallen in love with.  So to be honest, despite shopping on both Saturday and Sunday, we haven't brought anything else home.  But we are looking at these:

This gas-powered fire-pit from (of all places) Wal-Mart.  We've seen some cheaper wood-burning ones at Lowes and Home Depot but have safety concerns of putting a wood-burning pit on a wooden deck.  But can't afford the high end multi-thousand dollar version we fell in love with, so this seems like a nice compromise. We're thinking about it.

This sage green (darker than shown in the photo) 10' offset umbrella from Country Junction (Ashley Furniture). It is actually an Ace Hardware brand and the most sturdy, yet most reasonably priced of all the offset umbrellas we have looked at.

IF we go with these two pieces, we would really only have room on the deck for two more chairs. No dining table. Although I think the firepit table top and our little slate tables would fill the need for table space.  We would also go from being able to seat 10 on the deck (the furniture that we are replacing) to only being able to seat six.  I'm not convinced it matters - there are usually only five of us here - on the rare occasions we have company, we could bring out seating from the house if needed.  Ah, decisions!

Not having made any purchases on Saturday, we went back out on Sunday (yes, Mother's Day) after I had started laundry, stripped and made the bed, polished the dining room table, went grocery shopping, and did a little more laundry.  First store - closed.  Second store - nothing we liked. Third store - Bucks Country Garden - we had never been there before. We didn't find any outdoor furniture we liked but we did find this:

It is a hibiscus bush that has been trained into a tree.  We're having a bit of a cold snap right now, so it is indoors, but as soon as the weather warms back up, it will go out on the deck.  It has the most incredibly gorgeous blossoms!  See for yourself:

I absolutely fell in LOVE with this plant when we saw it at the Garden Center. Reminds me of Hawaii.
Also found THIS for the front porch:

Bought the pot, base and flowers. The pot is in my happy colors - green and blue. And the flowers are just impatiens (which are nice and hardy for the crazy weather here). I was leaning toward some variegated leaf stuff, but Jay wanted these and it works for me. This is my attempt to make the front of the home more inviting.  Here's the complete picture now:

Complete with inadvertent self-portrait!
Finished off my Mother's Day with dinner at Outback Steakhouse.  I had the Signature Sirloin & Snow Crab special with loaded baked potato:

Topped off with a trip to Dairy Queen for a choco cherry love blizzard.  Yummm.   Hope your Mother's Day was as tasty as mine!

Mother's Day & the Deck

Sounds like the title of a novel, right?  Well... a novel in photos anyway.  I know you were all anxious to see the new outdoor furniture, but you'll have to bear with me while I put it all in perspective for you.

First up, on Wednesday these arrived:

complete with note saying Happy Mother's Day a few days early - from Jay & the girls.  It was a mixed bouquet of Iris and Lily.  Most of the Iris bloomed in the first two days, but the Lilies didn't come out until later.

Here's a yummy close up of the Iris:

And of the Lily:
I haven't been able to breathe well in several days.  Now I know why - look at the pollen just sitting on that flower petal!  I didn't see it until I was editing the photos today!

Fast-forward to Friday. Jay had off and we decided to go out looking for new outdoor furniture.  Before we get into what we found, you have to understand what we are trying to replace:

A set of four resin adirondack chairs.  If you live in a climate that has four true seasons, you understand that after a couple years of exposure to excessive sun, heat, humidity, followed by rain, then snow, riduculous cold, etc. these chairs start to disintegrate. Literally. That white stuff on the arm rests? Disintegrating resin. Ick.

And this 8 piece dining set (table, 6 chairs, umbrella).  I know it doesn't look so bad in this photo, but what you can't see is this:

The set is rapidly rusting out - it is cheap steel with a thin powder coat and that is what happens.  The rust has run down into the fabric of the chairs creating ugly yellow/brown stains. Not enticing.  There were also 2 cheap fold-up chaise loungers that the girls used for sunbathing. Gone. Rusted to death. May they rest in peace.  Actually, we put the 4 resin chairs and the chaise chairs out for bulk trash and someone picked them up before the trash truck came.  Hopefully they will find a new home other than a landfill!
We went and looked at several stores (Home Depot, Lowes, JCPenney, Sears) and found a few things that peaked our interest, but nothing that screamed "buy me!" ... until we got to Kohls. It was serendipity at its best. We went in to check out the anti-gravity chaise chairs that I had seen advertised for $59.99. (They were $69.99 at JCP in a boring tan canvas fabric).  We walked in just as the "power hours" sale was starting (no, I hadn't planned that).  So the chaise chairs were on sale for $53.99.  Plus I had a 15% off coupon! Yeah, the more you know, the more you Kohls!  They had the chair I was looking for - but only ONE left - the floor model. A very helpful sales woman named Ellen called another local store and located a second for us.  So we came home with these two anti-gravity chaise chairs:

And two of these cute little slate tables:
Oh, and two of these wicker rockers:

Along with two red toss pillows (not pictured) to go with the rockers.  All for under $400!  When the "amount saved" circled in red at the bottom of my Kohls receipt was higher than what I had actually spent I was elated!  Now, even more impressive is that Jay & I rarely buy anything on the spot without discussing, hemming, and hawing for days. So going into the store and just saying to Ellen - yes, we'll take two of those and two of those and two of those... it was so darn much fun! Not only had we walked into a great sale, but we were totally in synch in terms of mindset dealing with the sale. Cool!!!

Since this is such a photo heavy post, I'm going to continue the story in another post.  Watch for the second installment!