Saturday, December 21, 2013

A New Layout

Created with Krystal Hartley's new kit Me The Magnificent, available at Sweet Shoppe Designs.

Goodness! I haven't done a layout in what seems like months! This was fun, a little tongue-in-cheek, a really cute kit.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Five Random Thoughts

Simple blow dry results. It ends up looking straggly within an hour.
Using straightener to curl the ends. This was the look I sported for my company's holiday party yesterday!
1. I had to go a couple of inches shorter than I wanted in order to donate my hair. The photo taken shortly after the salon visit showed my hair professionally styled. I haven't been able to duplicate that look at all. In fact, my hair hasn't looked the same a single day since it was cut. Some days it really just wants to be curly or flip up. Having had stick straight hair my entire life, this is a new one for me. Hmmm.

2. I met Missus Wookie!  She was here in the States visiting family. We met up at the Pottery Barn at the King of Prussia Mall. After browsing all the lovely Christmas displays, we went and had lunch together. She was delightful! I've now met three blog friends in real life. Totally cool.

3. I'm going "internet lite" for the remainder of 2013. I've already been absent a bit, between pulling muscles in back last week and then getting a head cold over the weekend. Well, I just haven't felt myself. I've been unable to concentrate or stick to a task for any length of time. In fact, I spent most of last weekend napping. So glad to have my Christmas shopping and wrapping done and parcels and cards mailed out early so I don't have to feel guilty about days spent doing nothing at all. But for the rest of the year, I'm concentrating on time with family. So no worries if I'm not posting... it's all good!

4. We have already had several snowfalls this month - in fact, an unusually high amount since we don't normally even get snow before Christmas. It makes me so glad to have the ability to work from home and not have to drive in it - but it sure is pretty!  Catching Rachel and Becca out shoveling without being asked? Be still my heart! Definitely a moment of joy and pride for me.

5.  No, I did NOT forget about the drawing for a mixed media canvas from my Inner Critic Post.  My winner is Melissa and I already have a quote chosen for her canvas! We'll have to see how much I get into it when I finally get out the paints and start to play. Maybe I'll surprise another blog friend or two!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Simple Moment

Tuesday morning.  8:24 a.m.  Jay is already off to work and the girls are still sleeping upstairs.

It is snowing lightly outside and I wonder absent-mindedly how much we are going to get this time. There are already five inches still sitting on the ground from last week. It is very unusual for us to have this much snow before Christmas. But it is beautiful and quiet outside, with that kind of hush that you only get with a quiet snowfall.  I check Yahoo Weather. They say 1-4 inches accumulation by mid-afternoon.

The only sound indoors is the clacking of my keyboard as I type up this moment. I realize it is a little chilly. Time to get up and adjust the thermostat.  Yes, indeed, the inside temp had dropped to 67. I keep it at 68 during the day, still too cold for my preference, but it is the compromise reached with the miser who can withstand extremes of heat and cold that most people can’t.  Once the girls are up, they will be running the fireplace in the family room most of the day.

I’ve been fighting off a head cold for the last few days. It has been cutting into my sleep and my ability to concentrate and get anything accomplished. So I’m very grateful that cards and packages have all been mailed, Christmas shopping is done and 90% of the gifts are wrapped. Haven’t finished decorating the tree, but that’s a small thing in the overall scheme of things. Cards are starting to trickle in with the mail.  Three new ones yesterday! I’m grateful and enjoy each one. Although it is clear that if I didn’t have blog friends, we wouldn’t be getting many cards at all this year. Which reminds me, I’ve also got lots of catching up to do with my blog posts. Time to move on. 

This moment is brought to you in conjunction with Alexa's Simply A Moment meme over at Trimming the Sails. To read more Simple Moments, click here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Play on the Popular

So I wanted to join in Sian's "Blog Cos You Want To" Club and take advantage of suggestion #2 - Play on the Popular.  But when I started looking through my old posts, all of the "popular" ones (ie- those with the highest number of comments) came from blog hops and Story Telling Sunday posts.  Which bring in an audience far wider than my "regulars".  So I started looking through the posts that only my "regulars" saw... and decided to share this one again...written August 19, 2011, this was my 500th post:

My 500th Post - Meet My Inner Critic

I've been blogging since October 2, 2008 - nearly 3 years. But I haven't always been a prolific blogger - and definitely not an every day without fail blogger.

But here I am today, nearly three years later, publishing my 500th post.  And if you are someone who likes to do the math, you'll quickly figure out that 500 posts over just shy of three years comes out to just about one post for every two days. And wow! That surprised me. I didn't expect it to be that high.

So how can I mark my 500th post?  What can I do to make this one special? Honestly, I wasn't coming up with anything exciting. Nothing seemed good enough. I tossed aside ideas about polls. And lists of 500 things. And then I realized... my Inner Critic was being loud and obnoxious and I just needed to hush her up. So for my 500th post I'm introducing you to my Inner Critic. And then, just to spite her, I'm doing a fabulous giveaway.  So keep reading!

I've been aware of my Inner Critic for a long, long time. I think most of us are. But I never really took the time to get to KNOW her until recently. I've been reading a book called Journal Spilling by Diana Trout (I did not realize until I was reading the book, she actually lives about 45 minutes from me.)  In her book, Diana introduces her Inner Critic - a short skinny geek with ugly bug glasses who wears his pants too short and his tie too tight. He's a very cartoonish fellow named Stewie. The lesson Diana offers is that when you get to really know your Inner Critic, you take away his/her power.

My Inner Critic is nothing like Diana's.  First off, she's decidedly female. She is 5'6" (the exact height I always want to be but never reached) and physically fit and toned. She wears the classic never-goes-out-of-style clothing and always looks polished and put together. She never leaves the house without makeup on. She never looks frumpy.

We share an affinity for good food, but she is satisfied with a bite or two whereas I am a certified card-carrying member of the clean plate club.

She is the kind of woman who keeps an immaculate home, makes a living, is a supportive spouse and loving mother, yet still finds time for creative pursuits, and does it all with flair and makes it look easy.  You know... the kind of woman you love to hate?

And because this is all natural to her, she expects it to be natural to me as well.  She scoffs at my awkwardness and discomfort in social situations. She reacts with total scorn at my sticky kitchen floors and cluttered counters. In fact, she is really quite judgmental.  Nothing I do is ever good enough for her. You see, we also share a complete lack of tolerance for incompetence and laziness... and she considers me to be both.  (if you've ever watched the showThe Gilmore Girls, she's eerily similar to the character Emily Gilmore as played by Kelly Bishop - see what I mean?)

Honestly, her whole "Martha Stewart" persona and "holier than thou" attitude are quite annoying. In fact, as I've thought more about her, I realized there is nothing AUTHENTIC about her whatsoever. She's just a construct of societal expectations and consumerism. The perfect middle-aged woman of 2011. A total phony. And she's doing her best to peddle her wares on me.  Thing is, I've decided I'm not buying it anymore. It is time to tell my Inner Critic to stuff a sock in it and kick her to the curb!

My no make-up, yoga pants and tee look is far more authentic. My messy home speaks of the real life and real activities happening here. The fact that I am too busy to clean obsessively - I guess that is a good thing!

To celebrate my 500th post AND the occasion of me finally telling my Inner Critic to shut the hell up, I'm offering a give-away!  One lucky blog reader will receive a mixed media canvas art from me (on a canvas panel which can be framed or used as is) designed specifically for the winner.  My Inner Critic is yapping away that nobody would really want my "art," it isn't good enough, the winner will surely be disappointed, blah, blah, blah.  I've firmly clapped my hands over my ears and am singing "la, la, la, la, la, I can't hear you!" at the top of my lungs.  I'm taking the chance and I'm going to do this!

If you would like to participate, please leave a comment telling me your happy color(s), any favorite quote or saying you have, or any other hints that might provide me with inspiration for your piece!  I will choose a winner on Friday, August 26th from all the entries received by then.  [end of 500th post]*

* Obviously, this giveaway was  over two years ago! But if you've been kind enough to read this far, here's the reward -  I've decided to do it again anyway... just as an excuse to play with canvas and paints and messy stuff.  So same rules as before, only I'll choose a winner on Friday, December 13, 2013.  I won't guarantee that the canvas goes out until well into January however...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thirty Days of Thankful - Wrap Up

I participated in Cathy Zielske's "30 Days of Thankful" during the month of November.  

For these pages, I used Cathy's templates (available at Designer Digitals) along with papers and elements from Gobble On and Autumn Days (available at Sweet Shoppe Designs). 

My final four days of the month:

Having completed a month of things to be grateful about, I felt ready to tackle the title and closing pages:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Story Telling Sunday - My Precious 12

So another installment of something precious from the depths of my hope chest. And the last of Story Telling Sunday... really?  I SO hope not! I've enjoyed this meme so much and I really hope Sian has something wonderful up her sleeve for 2014. Because I need the nudge. And she is such a wonderful and gracious host!

My last Precious is this lovely stack of cards and letters from my husband and daughters over the years. They all think I'm not particularly sentimental. I doubt they even know that I've kept these. Some of the more recent cards I've received have ended up in my "Junque Journal" (like a smash album) or on scrapbook layouts. But I don't really get cards much any more. Card giving seems to be a dying art in this family. So I treasure these ones that I have - both home made and store bought, for Christmas, Mother's Day, My birthday, or just to say "I love you" ... for the memories, for the tangible proof that at some points in their lives they all honored card giving occasions with sentiments that meant so much to me. And still do. And always will.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

One Little Word Blog Hop - December Edition

Whether you arrived here from Lee's Blog  as part of the One Little Word Blog Hop, or you are here because you love me and drop by regularly... Welcome! I love visitors! The One Little Word Blog Hop is a monthly hop run by Lee for members of Ali Edwards' One Little Word class over at Big Picture Classes. The hop goes live on Sunday at 6:00 a.m.  You can always check back later if someone's post isn't live yet.

Our November assignment was to collect photos that represent our word. This is the first month I haven't had the time or made the time to get it done. Family here all week - and family is always first for me. So here's a picture of the biggest DARE I've done in the last few months:

A helicopter tour at Grand Canyon West Rim

If you are continuing on in the hop, your next stop is  Margareta's Blog.

And just in case you get lost, here's the entire list:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thirty Days of Thankful - Week Four

I'm participating in Cathy Zielske's "30 Days of Thankful" during the month of November.  I'll be using the Friday link-up day to post my pages.  

For these pages, I used Cathy's templates (available at Designer Digitals) along with papers and elements from Gobble On and Autumn Days (available at Sweet Shoppe Designs). I'll be using this same group through-out the month.

With the rush this week to host a Thanksgiving Dinner for fifteen, I got a little bit behind on creating my gratitude pages, but here is what IS done:

 On the version that will be printed, I actually changed this to Day 16 (the day we went to Ocean City to pick up furniture) and moved my car to Day 22.

 I had journaled "12" because that is the number I was working with. The day before Thanksgiving my brother Jason called to let me know that his entire family would be attending and the number I was serving jumped to 15. Luckily, I had already bought enough food! But I did have to purchase plastic plates and silverware... I don't own enough dishes to serve 15!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

October Travels - Part Three

On the last day of my short visit with Deb, we started the day with the happy reappearance of her tiny turtle Casper from it's little hole. So it isn't quite hibernation time yet!

We met Carrie for breakfast at a restaurant called T.C. Eggington's where I had the most amazing omelette with Havarti cheese, bacon, pear slices and almond slivers. I've attempted to duplicate it a few times at home with okay results using baby Swiss cheese (what I had on hand) but I really think I need to find some Havarti cheese to do it right. We got to hear all about Carrie's meeting with one of her favorite motivational authors - Todd Henry.

After breakfast, we headed for downtown Phoenix. First stop, Tovrea Castle:

I had already packed my Canon in my suitcase for my trip later that day to Los Angeles, so all of these photos are from my iPhone. Sorry about the quality on some of them - I am still learning!
Saguaro Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus - complete with fruit!

To me, the cacti are the most quintessentially "Arizona" thing I've ever seen.

Our next stop was a part of town well-known for it's graffiti artists - and I was blown away:

Couldn't really even tell you what this was - it was some sort of sculpture in the same area with all the graffiti art. 
Here we actually caught an artist at work. Deb got much better photos than I did because she was willing to get out of the car and get up close. I, on the other hand, was having a difficult time with the brutal Arizona sun and preferred the comfort of the air-conditioned car. I'm sure I must have sounded a lot like Wendy Whiner that day.  I was okay in the shade, but the heat of the full sun was literally unbearable for me. Gives me a new admiration for the people who are able to live and thrive in that climate! Still, I loved driving around to see all the painted murals. 
  This one was my favorite of all! That's some talent to be able to do that with cans of spray paint!

From graffiti, we did a 180 and went to the Biltmore Fashion Park - an outdoor mall of some very high end stores - where we walked around a bit and grabbed some ice cream before heading to the airport. It was a lovely visit!

Then it was a short plane ride to my next destination:
Los Angeles. Where I spent four nights at the J.W. Marriott hotel (only on the 4th floor) and spent three days in sun-up to sun-down sessions getting all my continuing legal education requirements for the year. Not exactly exciting or glamorous but I did learn a few new things, so worthwhile in the end.  This photo was taken from the Los Angeles Convention Center which was just a short walk from the hotel.

And I arrived home so late on October 31st that I completely missed Halloween! 

And that concludes my October travels. It has been nice to be back home in my own bed for longer than two weeks! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

October Travels - Part Two

My second trip in October took me to Phoenix where I visited with Deb prior to heading to Los Angeles for another business conference.  I thought I could post my entire visit with Deb in one post, but when I started editing photos, there were just too many that I wanted to share! Rather than make this post a mile long, I decided to break it up over two posts.

When I arrived in Phoenix, Deb met me at baggage claim. So sweet of her! She was, as you would imagine, the perfect hostess. She had cleared out part of her craft room to make room for a bed for me and had left the sweetest little basket of toiletries and goodies in my room. There were small arrangements of fresh flowers everywhere. And her home is beautiful! I just kept walking around staring at all the little groupings of photos and things - she has such a flair for decorating in tiny collections. As a bonus I got to meet Doug and Carrie too! And Deb made sure I had plenty of paleo-friendly choices to eat!

The next morning, we left early and headed for Sedona. Deb wanted to show me her favorite places in Arizona.

Our first stop was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This church is built right into the mountain. It is small inside but beautiful. You can light a candle in memory of loved ones, which I did, and I found the experience very moving and a bit unsettling. Definitely worth the drive to see this!
I also took photos of the local wildflowers

and this is Bell Rock as taken from the car on the drive to the chapel.
 After visiting the chapel, we drove to a shopping area where we had lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant (that's a first for me... my idea of Mexican is "Chili's") and then walked around and visited a lot of shops. I definitely enjoyed the shopping because Deb likes to look at crystals and jewelry as much (or at least almost as much) as I do! And we had no men along making us feel rushed. Among my purchases - a pair of turquoise drop earrings and a small etched vase created by a Navajo artist.

 Our next stop was Crescent Moon Ranch. Here we got out and took a leisurely hike along a dirt path. Isn't that old water wheel cool? And the backdrop of the leaves in their autumnal glory was perfect!

Deb likes taking pictures as much as I do (you all know that already) and there was certainly plenty to photograph on this hike.
The path leading through the wooded area.
which ran along a creek
Can you see it? This is not something I would see hanging off a tree in Pennsylvania!
 At one turn on the path we suddenly came upon an area with these small cairns piled everywhere. As we walked further along the path there were more and more of them. It was very cool, but also somewhat mystical.
People got very creative with where they built the cairns, placing them along tree branches...

... and even in the creek!  Don't you wonder how that stays put with all the water splashing by?

And I was reminded just how adaptive and tenacious nature can be.  Check out this tree - with roots growing right into (out of?) the rock!
On our walk back to the car, we happened upon this elderly gentleman set up for painting. Isn't it just postcard material?

I realized as I was editing the photos that the only pictures taken of Deb & I together were on this walk - on her camera or phone - and I hadn't remembered to get copies of them from Deb. No doubt you've seen it on her post though!

Stay tuned for Part Two of my visit with Deb!

Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Days of Thankful - Week Three

I'm participating in Cathy Zielske's "30 Days of Thankful" during the month of November.  I'll be using the Friday link-up day to post my pages.  

For these pages, I used Cathy's templates (available at Designer Digitals) along with papers and elements from Gobble On and Autumn Days (available at Sweet Shoppe Designs). I'll be using this same group through-out the month.