Friday, May 29, 2020

This Is Me...

Me Today  :)
This is what 59 looks like!  Thinking back to my youth when I thought 60 was soooo old, 59 doesn't look so bad!  In fact, it looks a darn site better than 58 did! Although my hair is currently longer than it has been in quite awhile and is starting to drive me insane! Can't wait for the salons to open!
Me last May at Disney World

      On Reopening: 
Governor Wolf announced today that the counties in which my children and I live will all move to "yellow" phase on June 5th. My birthday gift from the government! Yellow phase means that restaurants may open for outdoor dining only and social gatherings of less than 25 are allowed.  Gyms, spas, and hair salons must remain closed. Work from home where possible is still strongly encouraged. 

Now that we have a move forward date, it's just a matter of waiting to hear when we can move to green.  Green doesn't mean "business as usual" the way we used to know it, but does mean that gyms and hairdressers can open at 50% capacity, indoor dining at 50% capacity, and gatherings of less than 250 would be allowed. We need to be in green for Becca's wedding, so fingers crossed!

On the Job Front: Jay is expecting an offer on a new position within the next week. I'm hoping the money and benefits are there, because I think this would be a great move for him.  In the interim though, his current job has called him back to work starting Monday! So either way, he's off the unemployment rolls!

What is the good news in your piece of the world?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

One Little Word

Playing catch up ... here's some random pages from my One Little Word album which I managed to bring up-to-date during National Scrapbooking Day.


I'm definitely in a better frame of mind than I was last time I posted. Nothing has changed except my own mindset. I still have no income and Jay is still on furlough. 

Yet, somehow I know it is all going to be okay.

Rather than fuss about things over which I have no control, I'm putting all my effort into building the foundation of my new business. When the world starts up again, I plan to be ready to go!

If any of you have advice on building a website, creating a logo, branding, etc. I'm all ears! I'm in over my head here...


Monday, April 20, 2020

Monday Musings

On Cricut Maker - I finally got started with my Cricut Maker yesterday.  My first attempt was an epic fail:
I decided this font was maybe just too thin to work...

I tried again with a different font that didn't have pencil thin lines.  I got an image I could actually transfer...  But I still didn't like the results.  The Cricut cut each individual letter fully, so where they overlapped, bits would end up missing.  Also, I thought the size was just a little too big!
Finally got to the point of understanding the difference between "group" and "weld".  Very happy with the final result.  More importantly, the bride-to-be was happy!  So, my first project - set of six bridesmaids wine tumblers - DONE!  And weeding vinyl?  Not my idea of a good time!

On Face Masks - I'm still busy sewing. Finished another 10 on Saturday.  So here's the group currently ready to hit the mail
I continue to receive requests for these, so I'm still sewing like crazy.  And now that it is becoming clear that our stay-at-home orders aren't being rescinded anytime soon, and we are being required to wear face masks to get into the grocery store, I'm guessing there will be a continued need.  I'm about to run out of elastic again. Sigh.

On the "New Normal" - or rather complete lack thereof. I thought we had this COVID thing kind of figured out. I'm unemployed, but that happened pre-COVID and we were doing okay. We had settled into a schedule and a life at home...  and with a single phone call, that has all been turned on its head.  

Jay just learned that he's been "furloughed".  I've put that term in quotes because we both agree it is his company's chicken-shit way of jettisoning employees without coming right out and telling them.  He was told 4-8 weeks.  So why do we think "furloughed" actually equals "let go"?  Because they want him to mail his laptop back to Corporate HQ.  If they were planning to bring him back in a month, why would they bother?  So we are now two unemployed older Americans.  Jay is devastated. I don't even know how to react. It sucks in ways I can't even describe.  I know that our situation isn't unique and that we will muddle through it somehow.  But O.M.G. - 2020 SUCKS!!!!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Monday Musings

My patience for all things Pandemic is wearing thin.

Today is Day 31 for me.  A full month of days spent in my home, going nowhere but the grocery store and walks around the block.  Most of the time I'm okay with it. But there are moments...

On Easter Sunday - I woke up feeling blue, knowing that we wouldn't be having the traditional family Easter dinner.  I fantasized about one of those parking lot picnics I've been seeing - everybody next to their individual vehicles with 6 or more feet of space between, sitting on the ground chatting.  I was sorely tempted, but convinced myself that I would be doing precisely what I had been secretly judging other people for...   

I set about my weekly meal planning and grocery shopping.  It takes so long now to put away groceries with the wiping down of every item with a Clorox wipe, then wiping the counter, the refrigerator door, the door knobs, and anything else I had touched between the grocery store and the interior of my home.  Chores done, I sat down to work on One Little Word and some weekly goal setting when the doorbell rang. Confused, I went to the door.

It was Becca!  She and Kyle had stopped by for some socially distanced chatting.  So we set up on the back deck (nobody entered the house).  Finally got enough chairs set up (they were still under winter cover) when Sarah came walking back!  So yes, two of my three children surprised me with an Easter visit.

We maintained social distancing and there were no hugs exchanged. No Easter meal. The kids brought their own drinks and snacks. They only stayed about an hour. I fully acknowledge this was a bit of a "cheat" from the stay-at-home rules.  But man, it did my heart so much good!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Monday Musings

On My Job Search... after roughly six weeks of stalking job boards, I concluded that anything  posted would be for large global companies in heavily regulated industries (banking, finance, pharma, health care, manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, etc.). I have neither the experience nor the desire to work in these fields. Perhaps reading job boards wasn't going to be a fruitful avenue for me.

So..... I decided to start my own practice!  I haven't gotten it off the ground or landed a single paying gig yet. But I stepped up my networking into the direction I'm hoping to go and started writing my elevator speech.  Soon I'm going to have to start working on a web site.  My plan is to provide in-house counsel services to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives who don't need (or want the expense) to add a full-time in-house counsel to their staff.  I'm trying to use the current downtime to do the background work to get this ready to go.

On All Things Wedding... right before the world came to a screeching halt, two things were accomplished.  First, on March 10, I found my Mother of the Bride dress!  It's ordered.  Sorry, no sneak peeks!  Second, Becca and Kyle got their wedding rings ordered on March 14th.  This was just before all the businesses were ordered to close... and that evening Becca and Kyle were literally the only two people in the restaurant where they went to celebrate. 

This photo was taken early afternoon on Friday, March 13th.  Becca and I took advantage of a beautiful Spring day to get a walk around the block.  Little did I know that would be the last time I'd be within touching distance of any of my children for weeks (or months, depending on how long this lasts).

On All Things Pandemic... By late afternoon that day, we had word that all Pennsylvania Schools would be closing for two weeks (now indefinitely).  Then Jay got the call to work from home for two weeks (now starting Week 4 and going until at least the end of April).  The panic buying at grocery stores and clearing shelves of toilet paper and hand sanitizer had started a few days earlier.

 My entire family began self-quarantine March 16th.  By the 19th all businesses in Pennsylvania that didn't meet the "life sustaining" categories were ordered to shut down.  Then the Governor began issuing stay-at-home orders on a county by county basis, starting with  Philadelphia effective March 23rd.  Within 3 days every county that my family lives in was included.  Initially the orders were effective until April 6. But on April 1st, Governor Wolf issued a state-wide stay-at-home order effective through April 30th.

Beginning March 21st my "new normal" involved trying to continue my business building activities while busily sewing face masks - initially because I wanted to get some to my daughter Becca and sister Deanna who are both in health care, both still working, both treating patients.

It has quickly morphed into so much more than that.  I've already sent out 22 masks which went to Becca's co-workers and my own friends and family around the country.  I've got another 26 done/in process and supplies coming from several places to make more.

I can't sew fast enough to meet the requests, but I'm trying!  I'll never know whether my masks prevented someone from getting ill, or saved a life, but I'm operating under the assumption that this is the case and working feverishly to make as many as I can - to make whatever small difference I can make in the world.  And that's really all anyone can do right now.

Here's a shot of my current batch of masks.  Using fabrics I had on hand.  All those animal prints were part of a coordinated fat quarter pack, easily 20+ years old!  The style in front is the typical civilian or healthcare emergency mask, like Becca is wearing in the picture above.  The style in back is more form fitting and the pattern is actually cut in different sizes (I'm making large). It can hopefully be worn over an N95 mask for healthcare workers.  I'll know for sure after my sister has a chance to test them out!

As I do when coming to grips with difficult things, I got quiet.  This is my first post since really accepting that this Pandemic was real. 

One interesting thing I did to help cope is join a workshop called Writers in the Pandemic hosted by Patti Digh.  In the course of the two week workshop I wrote several poems about my feelings in this time of uncertainty.  In one we started with the prompt "That discomfort you're feeling is grief." We were asked to write for a specific time period, then circle what stood out for us. Using the circled words as a prompt write a second time, then repeat the exercise and write a third time.  When I distilled it down, I ended up with this Six Word Memoir:

Reward for Safe Return.

When this Pandemic is over and the all clear is sounded, the first thing I'm going to do is hug my daughters.  What is the first thing you want to do when the Pandemic ends?

Monday, March 16, 2020

LOAD 220 - second attempt

I don't know why Blogger is blocking my photos. I even tried changing out the web versions for the original hi-res photos and it's still showing as a big empty square on my original post, despite the fact that the photos were there when I first posted. I seriously don't get technology sometimes!  So I'm trying again with a brand new post...

"Can you SEE me now?"

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

LOAD 220

My first attempt at participating in Layout A Day in many years was an epic fail.  In 29 days I managed only 4 layouts!

There was Jay's Birthday layout and my Christmas Cards spread which I shared HERE.

And these (both of which are self-explanatory):

Hopefully by May's round of LOAD, I'll be in more of a groove with my job search efforts and able to participate more fully in LOAD!  Have you ever tried a LOAD challenge?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Unread Bookshelf

I first heard about The Unread Shelf Project from a post by Karen on Random Reflections

I was immediately taken with the concept and decided to implement it myself.  Thanks for the link Karen!  I'm not really following along with the monthly challenges, I'm just trying to whittle down my unread shelf throughout the year.  Either read or donate (or read, then donate) so that at the end of the year, these books are all on my "already read but want to keep" bookshelf or off to new homes.  Which would be easier if I would stop buying new books! Between books gifted to me and ones I've bought, I own a fairly complete reference section on job searching now!

Here's my Unread Shelf:

At the far left are Bella Grace magazines and several art books that are out for reference and aren't truly part of the challenge.  Starting with "God is At Eye Level" (a photography book) are the unread books culled from all over the house that I want to read or let go of this year. I've read The Gifts of Imperfection several times, but feel the need to read it again and choose one of these copies (both I've highlighted) to keep permanently.

Interestingly, not a single piece of fiction on that shelf! Most of the fiction I've "read" in the past several years has been Audible books.

The six books laying across the top are the ones I've already completed since January 1, 2020.  I also re-read Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt but that one is currently on loan to Sarah.

With the exception of Rising Strong by Brene Brown which I'm halfway through, I've FINISHED all of the unread books on my Audible subscription and cancelled the subscription. I learned that I can borrow audio books for free through the Philadelphia Library. 

Audible books completed this year include:
The Minimalist Way by Erica Layne
The Proximity Principle by Ken Coleman
Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White (this one really helped when I tackled my craft space)
Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (second novel I've "read" by this author and I really like her style).

What are you reading???

Sunday, March 1, 2020

One Little Word - RISE

February Update

I did not participate in Ali's February lesson to create a vision board.

Why not?

Because I had already done it in January!

This year I am using the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Goal Planner for yearly/monthly goal planning in an attempt to be very intentional about my goals for the year.  I bought the 2020 dated version which is completely sold out, but you can still get the six month undated version.

There was actually a page built into the planner for you do build a vision board on.. And I filled it with everything I hoped to manifest this year... health, fitness, creativity, decluttering, vacations, enjoying life, Becca's wedding, and my job search are all represented in this page.  No need to reinvent just for OLW.

At the beginning of each month, I revisit my goals for the year and decide what I'm working on for that month within that month's tab in the PowerSheets planner. 

I then transfer that information into my Plum Paper monthly/weekly planner which houses all my appointments, tasks, etc. I have the 7x9 planner with the horizontal notes/week layout. It may seem like a lot of work to keep two planners going, but I'm finding this to be a fantastic way to reconnect each month with my overall intentions for the year while still having a planner that I refer to daily for tasks, meals, appointments, etc. I also keep a daily gratitude journal on one of the monthly lined pages and have the Fitness Add On page each month to track steps, sleep, exercise, etc.

RISE and I are getting along just fine for now.  I'm making baby steps forward in a lot of areas, less progress in others, but overall doing well.  How are you getting along with your One Little Word?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Thirty Questions

I "borrowed" this meme from Susanne over at Snaps and Snippets.

1. Who are you named after? 

My mother always told me that my name was inspired by the Four Seasons song "Sherry Baby".  But that can't be true because the song came out after I was born!  So, who knows?

2. Last time you cried? 

January 15th -  the day our kitty Ashley died.  Photo was about a month earlier.
3. Do you like your handwriting?

Yes. I get compliments on it all the time. Thanks to my second grade teacher Mrs. Spears who was a real stickler about penmanship.

4. What is your favorite meat?

Hmmm.  I mostly eat chicken or salmon, but I suppose my favorite is a properly cooked and seasoned filet mignon.

5. Longest relationship?

Technically it's my sister Deanna who is 4 years younger than me. Jay and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage this August.  

6. Do you still have your tonsils?

Yes.  But I'm short a gallbladder and 4 permanent teeth.

7. Would you bungee jump?

No way!  Not enough money in the world.

8. What is your favorite cereal? 

I don't eat cereal except the occasional bowl of oatmeal.  Does that count?

9. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? 

Yes, always.

10. Do you think you're strong? 

Physically, I'm slowly getting stronger than I was, but strong, not so much.  Mentally, hell yes (minus the occasional bout of fibro fog).  Emotionally, yes - my overall life circumstances left me no other choice. It was be strong or lose myself in the mess.

11. Favorite ice cream?
I don't eat much ice cream anymore because of the sugar. But when I did, it was mint chip first.  Vanilla bean if mint chip wasn't available.  Or the orange/vanilla twist frozen custard at Kohr Brothers in Ocean City NJ. 
 Image result for kohrs ice cream

12. What is the first thing you notice about a person?

Their eyes, then their smile (hopefully!)

13. Football or Rugby?

Neither. The only time in my life I ever gave a fig about sports was when my daughters were playing soccer and I was a soccer Mom!

14. What color trousers are you wearing?


15. Last thing you ate? 

Organic no-sugar-added peanut butter on triscuits.

16. What are you listening to? 

I just finished The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah on Audible.  The book has stuck with me for three days now.  Maybe it just hit a little close to home in some respects.

17. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

When I was a kid my favorite color was periwinkle.  Now I would be blue-green which is the closest my 64 box of crayola comes to teal.

18. What is your favorite smell?

Mint.  Followed closely by vanilla, apple-cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and thieves.

19. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? 

my daughter Becca

20. Hair color? 

natural blonde with a little white at the temples.

21. Eye color? 

Undetermined.  I've always said hazel, thinking that was the combination of blue-green.  Learned from Susanne's answers that hazel actually refers to a combination of green & brown. My eyes are blue-green-gray depending on the light and what I'm wearing.  The Iris has a darker blue ring on the outer edge, is pale blue-gray in the center, and has a little bit of what I think is green closest to the pupil.  I did some research - some articles are calling it blue-green, others are calling my combination gray.  So I don't know.

22. Favorite foods to eat? 

Comfort foods like pizza, homemade mac & cheese, baked potato soup - these are my favorites but I rarely eat them anymore.

23. Scary movies or happy endings?

Happy endings.  I don't care much for scary movies as a genre.

24. Last movie you watched?

At the theater - the final Star Wars movie
At home - Jumanji

25. What color shirt are you wearing? 

Gray Life is Good graphic tee

26. What is your favorite holiday? (English ladies mean vacation.)

Spending time near an ocean.  Not particular about which one.  I just like walking the beach at sunrise or sunset and enjoying the roar of the waves.  The rest of my family, unfortunately, prefers Disney World.

27. Beer or wine? 

Neither.  I've never really cared for alcohol in any form.  If I'm in a situation where it would be impolite or noticed to pass, I drink DiSaronno amaretto on the rocks.
28. Night Owl or Morning Person? 

Also neither.  I'm strictly a middle-of-the-day person!  Takes me a while to get going in the morning and I'm tired by 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.

29.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Hawaii.  Or anyplace with moderate temperatures and beaches.  But not unless I was also close to my kids... so basically, any place they are.

30. Favorite day of the week?

Monday.  Yes I'm weird. But it always feels like there is so much possibility in the week ahead on a Monday.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Craft Space Clean Up - AFTER

Well ladies - with all your encouragement, I got down to business and have completed my craft space clean up and reorganization!

On my last post Patio Postcards asked if the word "Simplify" was a prior One Little Word.  YES! It was my word for 2016.  And it's still so relevant for me.

Susanne of Snaps and Snippets wondered about all the Scrabble games.  They were definitely purchased to harvest the tiles for crafting.  I thought I would use the game boards for backgrounds for wall art or covers for journals.  During the clean up, I had to admit that the likelihood of that EVER happening was slim, so I dumped all the tiles and trays into a gallon size plastic bag and recycled all the boards and boxes.  It takes up so much less space now!

Here are my AFTER photos with some commentary...
The view from the office side of the craft table toward the front entry hall.  You can SEE the table top!  All that delicious making space - and no boxes, bins, or piles of stuff!

Under the table are storage shelves.  The upper shelf has 8 full photo boxes.  The lower shelf has 6 plastic boxes of miscellaneous supplies - ribbon, sewing, beading, some small bits of specialty fabric.  I don't access these items often so this spot was chosen because it's not as easy to get at.

Side of desk facing the wall. From this view, you can see my actual "workspace".  All the inkpads in the wall unit were tested and labeled.  I donated about 20 different colors of glitter in teeny tiny baggies.  I never use glitter on anything anyway!  And I added one new item to the wall unit...

Sarah made this mug for me years ago.  It's been sitting unused in a cabinet in the kitchen.  This space was perfect, and honestly, it's inspirational in terms of scrapbooking!

You may recognize the quote from the 2008 movie "Australia" as something said by the Drover, played by Hugh Jackman.

And those yummy distress ink pads? Can you believe I had five unopened ones?  I haven't bought scrapbooking supplies in at least two years!!

View of the bookshelves. At first glance it may seem like nothing changed from the original shot.  To be honest, this bit took me the most time of all!  I went through every storage box, bin, and basket.  A few things were culled out.  Many things were moved to group with other like items and contents of many of the baskets and bins was changed out.

I tried to group all my most used tools and supplies into this section - in the easiest reach from my workspace.

Other sections of the shelves include my Library of Memories Binders...

Paper and Photo Binders...

And other albums.  Jay and I before kids, my high school/college scrapbook, an album for just my art journal/artsy style layouts, Week in the Life, etc.

Here's a close-up of the bulletin board wall.  I have been hanging onto those vinyl wall words since before 2008. I'm so glad I finally put them up!  I added a command hook for my apron and switched out the desk lamp for a smaller one that fit the space better.  All those markers and paints in the Coca Cola tray?  Every single one was tested - all the dried up ones were tossed!!!

Below the bulletin board - my Ikea carts and storage. To fit the second Ikea cart, I had to move the table toward the office about 6" which really opened up this space.  Moved my punches out of the bottom drawer (which I could barely open with the weight) and onto the new cart.  Reorganized what was in all the drawers based on what got used the most.  Everyday adhesives and foam dots are now in the drawer unit up on the table and the glue gun is in one of the storage drawers.

All the craft paints were tested as well.  Tossed quite a few dried up bottles.  Added color samples to the bottles that didn't already have them.  Before testing this rack was full!  I now have space to add new paints.  Not planning to rush out and buy anything - this is my "room to grow"!

From a little further out on the side of the desk, you can see my small modular shelving unit which fits partially under the table top. You also get a glimpse into my office and the new furniture I bought last August.  My next "big" purchase will be a new stool for this space.  The table is counter height. The stool was snagged from the kitchen, but it is bulky and uncomfortable to sit in for any length.  I want to get a new one that is on wheels and lighter weight.

This shelf unit holds all my "once and done" type albums and each year's One Little Word album.  I had green fabric bins in three of the sections originally.  As the number of albums grew, the bins have been removed and their contents relocated.  I removed the last one in this purge and relocated the milk bottles that I use for flower vases onto a high shelf in the kitchen cabinets.  That freed up space for some empty photo albums and journals that will, no doubt, become scrapbook projects in the future.

All those albums and I haven't even included a photo of the Pottery Barn window seat bench that houses about 15 albums in the cubbies under the bench!  I have done some scrapbooking in the last twenty years!  Yes, I've been scrapbooking over twenty years now!

I'll leave you with this close-up of a piece of art work you may have glimpsed on the bulletin board (note: the mermaid painting was done by my sister Deanna - she was going to toss it).  The one and only Lifebook 2020 lesson I've completed to date... the "warm up" lesson.

So are you feeling sufficiently inspired to tackle your own craft space? What change do you think had the most impact?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Craft Space Clean Up - BEFORE

One of my "projects" for February is to clean, purge, and reorganize my craft space.  These are my BEFORE photos...

I'm posting here so I can be held accountable to get this project done!

If I haven't posted my AFTER photos by March 1st, you can all ask me where they are.

Not only is this mess embarrassing, it hinders my creativity because there is no space on that table to actually work!

The set-up of the room won't change much because this is really how everything fits best.  But I do plan to purge stuff I will never use, clean up the mess, and get things organized so I know what I have and where to find it! Stay tuned for the transformation!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

One Little Word

I never got around to posting my OLW January pages.  Confession:  I didn't even finish them until the beginning of February!  Pretty self-explanatory, so I'll just leave you to peruse!