Friday, December 23, 2011

Time to Catch My Breath

Have you missed me?  It's rare that I go a full two weeks without a single post.  But sometimes life happens that way.

December has been insanely busy.  And I've been sick since December 1st.  With the never-ending knock-you-on-your-ass head cold.

I normally have about one day every other week out of the house (in the office or traveling for work).  This month I have been away from home two days per week - every week.  For those of you who work 5 days a week away from home, this may seem like no big deal.  To me, it has been exhausting.

I had a 14 hour day traveling to/from and attending a Continuing Legal Education Seminar in Philadelphia.

Followed by a 1/2 day of jury duty during which I never left the  juror's lounge.

Despite being sick, I've had 5 days of meetings in the office.

And my company holiday party.

Despite being sick, I launched a huge records retention project this month. A project I'm in charge of... and sweating over...

Despite being sick, Christmas presents were purchased,
yes... from the comfort of my computer chair!

And they were  wrapped.  I finally finished yesterday!

We've have several frosty days.  Mixed in with a lot of unseasonably warm.

We haven't had snow since that freak storm in October.

I've been sleeping - a LOT.

Despite being sick, Christmas cards and a newsletter were created.

Envelopes were addressed.

Cards were mailed. Later than normal for me, but done.

Despite being sick, I started a Tai Chi class.

Despite being sick, the Christmas tree was put up and decorated.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Our Christmas Eve boxes have been filled (new pjs and ornaments).

Despite being sick, laundry was washed and groceries were purchased, meals were made, and life went on.

But... because I was sick...

... what you see on this blog post is literally all the pictures I've shot this entire month!

... I'm behind on all of my online courses.

... not a single JYC/December Daily page has been created and I think I may need to just let it go this year.

... I haven't been blogging.  I haven't been commenting much, but I  HAVE been reading your blogs and keeping up to date!

Yes, life does go on with or without me.  I'm as ready for Christmas now as I can be. And ready to enjoy a week off work and some time to slow down.  And catch my breath.  And maybe create a little.  I'm ready to leave 2011 behind.  I'm ready to embrace 2012 with open arms.

I wish for each and every one of you a blessed Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.  See you soon!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Just a Quote for Friday

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling
of letting go and holding on.
~Arthur Miller

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Storytelling Sunday - on Grandparents

This really isn't much of a story - more just an acknowledgement.  I think that grandparents play a very important role in a child's life. So I was grateful to have these people in my life:

Grandma and Grandpa Rice were not actually my grandparents. They were an elderly couple that happened to live in the downstairs apartment of a two-flat in Chicago. We lived in the upstairs apartment. At the time of these photos, I was 6 1/2, Deanna (the little red head in the center photo) was 2 1/2, and Jerry was just turning 1.  The other boy in the photos is my cousin Geoff.

But back to the Rice's... other than occupying the same apartment building, this couple had no ties to our family.  Yet they chose to informally adopt our young family and fill in as grandparents in a home where all the biological grandparents had either died or lived far away in other states.

I honestly know nothing about the Rice's, other than the last name. And that they were wonderful loving people who fulfilled a needed role in the lives of three young children for a time.

Seeing these photos reminded me of the saying "People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime... Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy."  

The Rice's were definitely in my life for a season and gave me the opportunity to experience the kind of love that only grandparents are capable of offering. When I came across these photos recently, I knew I needed to document these special people who were an important part of my life for a season. 

For more of Storytelling Sunday, visit Sian's Blog From High in the Sky.  There's already 27 other bloggers with stories to share!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just a Quote for Friday

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and with
too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 1, 2011

One Little Word Blog Hop - December Edition

Well... it's that time again.  And I'm so proud of myself that I've mostly kept up with this class all year!  Seriously considering doing it again next year and just continuing in this same album.  The One Little Word Class is taught by Ali Edwards and offered through Big Picture Classes. It is running again next year - just opened up for registration - and it is only $36 for the full year!

So, somehow in November I didn't end up on the blog list.  I didn't realize until I was going to bed last night that I had never received the final email from Margie, so it was too late to follow up with her and get added.  But I'm joining in anyway! :)

November's prompt was a series of "i" statements. Which really caused me to sit down and think seriously about where I was with my word this late in the year.

I used leftover scraps from my November progress chart to fill in the blank spots.

 a couple close ups....

and finally, my progess chart for the month - photographed half way through the 29th.

I actually wrote down was I grateful for EVERY day this month!

For more One Little Word Inspiration, check out the entire blog hop.  Here's the list:


Julie Ann
Monica B

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

We had a really nice family Thanksgiving. It took literally three days of cleaning, setting up, preparation and cooking to pull this off and was exhausting, but so worthwhile in the end.

Even though we can go years at a time without seeing each other, I remain grateful for my extended family.

This layout was created with a template from Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals - papers are from Katie Pertiet's "Conifere Kit" - the Thankful Heart word art is also from Katie Pertiet and is a free download here as part of this week's quote challenge.

I did steal one idea from Deb  and made the most adorable little napkin rings...

My teens thought that assigned seats was lame but the place holders were a hit with everyone else. Thanks for the idea Deb!

Black Friday my family went out shopping at the Mall at five a.m. I don't care much for the Mall during normal days, but the craziness of Black Friday shopping is not for me. I shopped online from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., pretty much completed all my shopping with some fairly decent bargains, and then took a nap.

Later in the morning I had to head back to the hospital for a repeat mammogram and ultrasound.  A little bit of a scare for me, but after some very painful squishing, turns out it is only cysts. The words "nothing concerning" uttered by the radiologist were most welcome at that point.

As this holiday weekend comes to a close, I am thankful for family, accessible medical care, and good news.  How about you?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just a Quote for Friday

I looked at my life with open eyes. I saw that I had much for which to be grateful. 
I felt humbled by my riches and regretted that I took for granted the abundance 
that already existed in my life. 

                                                                      ~Sarah Ban Breathnach 
                                                                          Simple Abundance

Monday, November 21, 2011

Enabler Alert - FREE Holiday Class!

Crystal product 1

You can get this one week self-paced class FREE over at! Just click on the photo above, it will take you right to the site with all the ordering instructions!

Free is always good. Even if you are busy with other classes, you can just download this info and save it for later! I'm all signed up... are you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just a Quote for Friday

We are shaped by our thoughts, we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

~ Buddha Quotes

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Suspect Captured!

on film that is...

Here is the suspect, caught in the act of vandalizing a neighbor's mailbox.  I know you can barely make him out.

I was shooting with my P&S from across the street and maybe 15 yards back on a fairly high zoom and hand-held which means the entire photo is out of focus, so I circled the guy so you can find him.

I tried to get closer, but of course he took that as his cue to fly away.

A quick google search identified him as a downy woodpecker, apparently fairly common in Pennsylvania.

And just what is this cute little ball of feathers guilty of???

Mailbox defacement in the first degree!  The hole on the furthest left actually goes all the way through to the interior of the mailbox.  The ones on the center and right side are fairly fresh.  If this keeps up, we'll be needing a new mailbox soon!

Just for fun... leaving you with my 11-11-11 photo. I wanted to take this in the morning but happened to be out running errands with hubby at the time and no camera with me.  So I waited...
and captured the p.m. version. Then because the photo was so boring, I added  textures! "Scripted magic" on screen mode, plus "cinnamon" - both textures from Kim Klassen.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Doing It Digi

I couldn't make up my mind about this year's JYC/December Daily album.  Even though I deeply admire what Ali Edwards does with her December Daily, I learned last year that I have neither the patience, nor the time, to collect and assemble "stuff" into an album. I'm not much of a collector of daily ephemera anyway.

I knew that to be doable this year, my album needed to be mostly digital.  And this year I really want to focus on the photography aspect and get some great new photos.  I know that my decorations and the scenery around here do not change much from year to year. I just know in my heart that I can do a better job photographing them.

So I spent a couple of days organizing and purging my Christmas themed digi stash.  It is truly sad how much digi stuff I own.  In fact, after extensive purging of items I know I won't use, just the Christmas themed folder is 4 GB!  Yet, after all that organizing and purging, there was nothing in my stash that was inspiring me.  So what did I do?  Went shopping of course!

I bought Ali's 2011 templates (currently on sale over at Designer Digitals).  I used the same 2010 templates and decided this year to just finish out that album which definitely has enough space for another year.  I had to go through and resize all the templates to 5.5 by 8.5 to fit my album.  Although tedious, it is really simple.

I also bought Frosty Nocturne.  Miki Ferkul is one of my favorite designers over at Scrapbookgraphics and this kit is currently 20% off (because it is new this week).  I love that while it contains totally traditional red/green/cream Christmas colors it also adds in the blue and brown and has non-traditional elements.  I can borrow from other kits if I need to add a santa or christmas tree to something, but I'll mainly be working from this kit to limit my options and keep the whole project streamlined.

To make sure that I was fully committed to my choice, I went through the process of creating 31 days of digi page backgrounds.  These are now in my 2011 file, just waiting for photos and finishing touches! I used the same paper from the Frosty Nocturne kit for all the backgrounds. It will be mostly covered up with photos and additional elements anyway and it gives me a nice neutral base to start.

The interesting thing about working with Ali's template is that the space for the photo actually measures about 5 by 6.5".  Not a traditional size by any means.  Last year I either cropped a vertical photo to fit or added in two horizontal photos or one horizontal photo and some journaling.  I'm kind of curious to see how I will handle that space this year.  Who knows!

So there you have it - decisions made and the process begun. And I'm feeling a definite sense of calm knowing I have made it this far.  How about you?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten Reasons Why You Won't Sleep During a "Sleep Study"

My room for the night at the Stoneridge Sleep Center

1. It's not your own bed.
2.  The straps that monitor your chest and abdomen feel like they are constricting your rib cage.
3.  The tape holding sensors on your face itches.
4.  The paste holding sensors on your scalp (in your hair) is sticky and itches.
5.  The tubes up your nose to monitor breathing and snoring are pokey and uncomfortable.
6.  If you try to roll over you have to take a bunch of wires with you and inevitably you get tangled in them.
7.  If you lay on either side (yes, I'm a side sleeper) all the wires and tubes poke into your head and face.
8.  You can hear the patient in the next room snoring.  Loudly. Seriously, if I had to sleep with that guy, I would smother him.
9.  You can hear the technicians talking down the hall. And doors closing. And other unidentified strange noises.
10.  You know there is a camera on you monitoring your every move.  Which is just creepy.

I felt like I barely slept at all although the technician tells me I did. I think I dreamed about being awake!  There is apparently no explanation for why I wake up dozens of times a night.

Today I am grateful to know that I do not have sleep apnea or breathing issues and, contrary to what my husband will tell you, I barely snore at all!

Check here for more of Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Storytelling Sunday - A Tale of Two Women

This is the tale of two wonderful women who, by a cruel twist of fate, had the singular misfortune to have both (at different times) fallen in love with the same man.

The first woman, Sandy, is my Mother.  She had a relatively happy childhood until her father died of leukemia when she was a young girl.  From there on out she grew up in an atmosphere where she felt unloved and unappreciated, and largely in charge of the care of her younger sister, Pat.  She married at age 16 to escape an unhappy family situation.  But as the old saying goes, out of the frying pan, into the fire.  She had no idea at the time that she left her childhood home of Elmira, NY and traveled 3000 miles across country to start a new life that she had married an abusive alcoholic.

Sandy had her first child, Wendy, at age 17 and me at age 19.  I'm the infant in this picture, born in May of 1961.

Just a couple years later, the man took me and drove back to Elmira, leaving Sandy behind with a very sick child.  My sister Wendy died at age 5 of childhood leukemia.  Broke and alone, Sandy had no means to come after me.

I was left with my Aunt Bev, where I spent a year of my life. And where my first retrievable memories reside.

The second woman, Sue, was my Mom.  She also had a relatively happy childhood until her mother died of breast cancer when Sue was only ten.  Sue's father remarried quickly.  The step-mother was a strict disciplinarian who favored Sue's younger sister, Judy.  Apparently Sue's life after that wasn't as happy.  The parallels in the lives of these two women is somewhat spooky.

Sue grew up in Chicago.  It was there that she met the man in 1964 and became pregnant.  They married in February of 1965.  Sue was 23.

It was only after the marriage that Sue learned that the man had a three year old daughter living in Elmira N.Y.

They came to get me and took me back with them to Chicago where Sue assumed the role of my Mom. She did it well. She never once made a distinction between me and her biological children. We were all just family and siblings.

Apparently the man had a "type" when it came to women, because yes, the two of them did look a lot alike, and yes, as I was growing up people often commented about how much I looked just like my Mom. It was like an inside joke that always made us laugh, but never explain.

Shortly after bringing me to Chicago, my Mom gifted me with my sister, Deanna.

What a pair we made, my blonde hair, her fiery copper red.

From the outset, Mom encouraged me to have a relationship with my Mother and we began exchanging letters as soon as I could write.

In the meantime, our family expanded and Sue also learned about life at the hands of an abusive man.  This chain smoking, beer drinking, deadbeat couldn't manage to hold down a job and did nothing to help around the home. But was quick to blame and to punish if things were not the way he liked them. He played a leading role as the villain in my life until I was 13, but now is nothing more than a footnote in my family history.

When I was nine years old, my Mom took a giant leap of faith and put me a plane from Chicago to go visit my Mother in California.

That is how I came to first meet my Mother (don't I look like I belong on the Brady Bunch?).  After this visit, I didn't see her again until I was 16, but we continued to correspond by letter (yes, how old-fashioned!).

When I was 13 my Mom realized that the abuse she was taking wasn't affecting just her, it was affecting her entire family.  So she divorced the man. And began life as the single mother of four children.

Both women remarried wonderful men who treated them with kindness and respect.  And because they shared not only a history with the man, but also me, they eventually became good friends.

That is how I came to have two wonderful fathers to walk me down the aisle at my wedding.

And two mothers-of-the-bride sitting in the pews.

That is how I came to grow up with two women, both of whom love(d) me and provided for me, each in their own unique way.

That is how I came to grow up with this wonderful woman who is both my sister and my best friend.

So I'm grateful for the cruel twist of fate that brought these women together, my Mother and my Mom, so that my life could be what it is today.

This picture is of my Mom and my three daughters (all flower girls) at Deanna's wedding in June of 1997.

My kids loved her like crazy.  That's Becca on her lap and Rachel to her right.  See Rachel's pouty face?  She was mad that she didn't get to sit on Grandma's lap for the picture.

Mom was already sick at this point, she just didn't know it yet. Sadly, Mom died in February of 1998 of renal cell cancer.  She was only 56.

There is so much I could tell you about these two women and their beautiful and unique contributions to the world.  But I don't want to hijack your entire day.  Suffice it say that growing up with two women who loved me as their daughter is something for which I will always be grateful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just a Quote for Friday

I'm joining Deb in Just a Quote for Friday (hope she doesn't mind)...
This also fulfills week 37 of Picture Inspiration - Texture Love.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

One Little Word Blog Hop - November Edition

Hello and Welcome to the One Little Word Blog Hop! If you came here from Jenn's blog, welcome! You made it to the right place.  Grab a drink and stay awhile! I love visitors!
If you are a regular reader, you already know the drill! ;) The entire hop goes live at 8:00 a.m. Pacific (11:00 my time) so if you are early, just check back later to catch everyone!

My one little word for 2011 is "happy". I am focusing this year on what it means to be happy, what makes me happy, how mindful I can be about choosing happiness.

For September, Ali asked us to revisit February's prompt and do a divided page of photos. I culled through my archives for the last six months and chose photos that just made me happy to look at:

The only photos that might need some interpretation are: 

top left --that is one of our cats drinking out of a glass of ice water that my daughter left on the sofa -- she prefers her water cold and will help herself to anything left unattended!

Center: my two youngest on a college visit.  I do feel ready for this next stage!

I also chose two photos to enlarge to 5x7 and added some favorite quotes.  If you are a regular blog reader, you'll already know why these photos are special enough to be worthy of enlargement.  If you are a casual visitor or just popping in from the One Little Word classroom, you can find the story of this photo here.

This is me just goofing on the beach.  The story behind this photo can be found here. No question but that I am HAPPY in this moment.

My self-assessment for the month of October. I did have a much harder time with exercise this month... and I'm finding that weekends and travel both tend to trip me up in terms of maintaining commitments to myself! 
But I'm proud of how well I did on the sugar-free elimination diet.  An entire month with no ice cream, cookies, cake, brownies, or other sweets. My two slip-up days were travel days.  One involved a fruit smoothie in the airport.  The other some cola on the airplane, attempting to stave off an impending headache.  I honestly don't think the sugar-free diet helped my fibromyalgia symptoms at all.  Sure didn't affect my weight. :(.  But I'll know for sure in the next few days as I allow some treats back into my life. 

Thanks for stopping by! Your next stop on the hop is Jan's blog.  And just in case you get lost, here is the entire hop list:

Julie Ann 
Cheri         <----- YOU ARE HERE
Jan           <------ NEXT STOP
And many thanks to Margie for keeping this going so that we all have incentive to stay up-to-date with our One Little Word albums!

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Not Supposed to be like THIS....

It is Autumn here in the sleepy little town of Perkasie.  We have a few bare trees and a few trees starting to turn, but we still have a LOT of green.  So we aren't supposed to get SIX INCHES of snow!

It all starts innocently enough.  A few flurries:
and the ground is just starting to show white.  Take note of that nice tall tree in the background.  See all those green leaves still left?  See the nice space between the lower branches and the ground???

Well, when the snow starts settling on the leaves, especially the very heavy wet snow we were getting, the branches start to bend under the weight of it all...

And ultimately the branches touch the ground... and some break off... :(

We lost a large branch off this tree and another in the back yard.  Almost every house in this area lost branches or entire trees.  And parts of the area are still without power, even though the storm was on Saturday.  Schools were closed today.

If this is any indication of what is to come.... I am so NOT READY for winter!!!  Please Mother Nature, can we have Autumn first????

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Picture Inspiration {36/52}

This week Tracey was looking for "Punchy Color" and I seem to have been shooting a lot of it lately!

Friday, October 28, 2011


I arrived in Denver late on Sunday afternoon.  It was a balmy 72 degrees (22C) and sunny. Gorgeous!

This was the view from my hotel window just before sunset. And this was as much "sight seeing" as I got to do!

Looking straight down from my hotel room (I was on the 20th floor), I could see this bear peeking into the Convention Center where I spent the bulk of the next two days.

Inside the convention center were a number of large back-lit billboard style advertisements.  I had to get a photo of this one.  I know the old adage that "sex sells" but I wasn't sure with this ad whether to be amused or offended! What do you think?

I woke up on Wednesday to temps in the low 30's (just below 0 for you centigrade folks) and snow!  That poor bear definitely had reason to want to be inside!  Thankfully I made it to the airport and had an on time departure despite the weather.  And arrived home late Wednesday evening.

Another city down. Another business trip crossed off my list.  And blessedly... no more traveling for a while.

And guess what I did on the plane?..................