December 22, 2011

I'm on Santa's Team!

This is reposted from Felecia's blog 15 Minutes, because I just love, love it so much.  I wish I had done this when our youngest was told that there is no Santa Claus.  Every year I pick someone in my world to give something to from Santa, because I am, and will always be, one of Santa's helpers.

I remember my first Christmas party with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"


My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus!" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill , wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about though, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's second grade class.

Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes," I replied shyly. "It's ... for Bobbie." The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas. That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie.

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

Author Unknown

December 16, 2011

The Chimney



It's made of paper.  It's remade for every Christmas.  It was born in 1997.  It is our Chimney.

When I first entered into a relationship with my Hubs, I wanted to create our own traditions, for us and for The Kids.

Growing up, the farm house I lived in had a fireplace (non-working), complete with a mantel from which to hang our stockings.  When I moved here, the places I chose to live did not have hearths or mantels, and as I didn't really have a family here to celebrate, this did not really bother me.  Until The Kids.

Our very first Christmas as a couple was in 1997.  I lived in a small apartment on the third floor of the building.  The Hubs (then The Boyfriend) helped me get my very first, on-my-own Christmas tree.  As The Kids were helping decorate, I was desperately trying to figure out what to do with the stockings.  Pulling out some old construction paper, I fashioned the very First Chimney.  The Boy (the artist) drew the fire, I fashioned some logs out of old paper bags and the Eldest Girl thought it would be fun to put some paper boots with cotton around the ankles, depicting Santa dropping in.

First Chimney was very small, perhaps only 3 feet wide.

Now it has grown to the size you see here.  Instead of construction paper, it's made out of red wrapping paper with hand-drawn "bricks".  We still use paper bags for the logs and often the mantel itself.  The Hubs gets creative with the lights (he LOVES lights) nowadays, not like that First Chimney.



Over the years, I have grown tired of putting it up, especially as more and more gets piled on.  I'm either moving slower, or time really is speeding up.  It really is a lot of work.  Something had to give (for me). I have nagged and cajoled The Kids into doing it for a couple of years.  This year, though, it's been 100% The Hubs.  Every year I wonder, "Is this the last year?"  Because I know as The Kids grow up and move on, Christmas traditions will change again.

Hard work or not, I will miss this one.  It is one of the major traditions that started the very first year we were all together, and has continued on.  And every year, I think about what I said back in 1997...

... the Chimney is up, now Santa can come!

December 7, 2011

Cleaning & Crafting...

Last night I took some time to get 'little things' done.  Things that pile up because they can always be left off 'until tomorrow'.  Among cleaning up from having company over on Sunday, I also clipped the critters nails with The Hubs' help.  Afterward, as I was motivated at the 'little things' being crossed off my list, I wandered down into the scrapbook area to clean up and put things away from a weekend crop I'd enjoyed (as well as search for Something Very Important that I have lost - and have yet to find).

As I was unpacking from the crop, I was frustrated with a broken old laundry basket that was sitting on the floor.  Within it was a variety of scrapping items that I had taken to the last craft garage sale...wait for it... back in March!  Yes, March!  I'd had enough of it being in my way so I got out my Swiffer (a must with four cats and a dog), swiffed up enough of the fur so I could sit on the floor and decide once and for all what to do with these unwanted items.  Sadly, most of them just got incorporated back into my supplies.  A few did get thrown away, though, so that was a nice breath of fresh air. 

After I was done, I was so pleased, I sat down and decided to make a few stocking stuffer items for The Girl.

I started with these supplies.



Can you guess what I was making?  It's pretty obvious... flower clips for her hair.

After I made this one, and turned it into a hair clip, I was suddenly hooked! 


What other flowers could I use to make more hair clips? Trust me, I found some, and ended up with 9 hair clips for The Girl's stocking.



 
(Sorry about the dark picture... it was either get it dark or get it with too much glare).
 
Anyway, I was thrilled.  The Hubs agreed that they were "cute" and especially like the little rosettes, as I had added some Stardust Stickles to the petals.  I went upstairs to show The Boy (keep in mind he's 22 and The Girl is 16). 
 
Sigh.
 
I won't even describe to you the look on his face when he saw them.  When I told him they were for his sister, he said, "uh.... they're....uh.... nice."  I said, "what's wrong?"  He replied, "I don't think she'll wear them."
 
Sigh.
 
I didn't bother to tell him that The Girl had tried to steal some flowers previously because I had mentioned that they would look nice on a hair clip, telling me, "you should make it for me!"  Granted, that flower isn't what I used when I was making them.  Maybe she won't like them.  Maybe she'll say she does but never wear them.  It's the thought that counts.
 
At least these three got some "hair time". 
 
 
Keep your fingers crossed that she'll like them.  If not... maybe I'll send them on to someone who will!

December 5, 2011

Storytelling Sunday (on Monday)…

Oops, I did it again! I totally “spaced” on Storytelling Sunday. I didn’t want to miss it again, especially after loving every minute of writing last month’s post. But, per Sian, it continues through the week and so… here I am.   Sorry for being tardy to the party.

I’m here to tell you about a very special Christmas story for a little girl…



The Year I Wished For Snow…



Snow has always been a big part of my childhood. Having grown up in western New York state (upstate to anyone living in NY City), my hometown was part of the “snowbelt”. What is a snowbelt, you ask? Well, having had that part of my vocabulary all of my life, I found it hard to describe, so here is a source that describes it perfectly:


Snowbelt is a term describing of a number of regions near the Great Lakes in North America where heavy snowfall in the form of lake-effect snow is particularly common. Snowbelts are typically found downwind of the lakes, principally off the eastern and southern shores. Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air moves over warmer water, taking up moisture that later precipitates as snow when the air moves over land and cools. The lakes produce snowsqualls and persistently cloudy skies throughout the winter months, as long as air temperatures are colder than water temperatures, or until a lake freezes over.

(Thank you, Wikipedia.)
Anyway, snow was always a big part of my childhood. And Christmas always had plenty of snow. Always. As I grew older, though, it seemed that sometimes snow wasn’t around by the time Christmas came and went. To me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the brown, dormant grass being fully covered by fresh, white, fluffy snow.

On this particular year, I was eight, maybe ten, years old (I really only remember that I was little). Throughout the month of December, I was eagerly waiting for snow, watching the sky and being uncharacteristically tuned in to the weatherman. Sadly, the snowbelt, and the weather forecasters, were disobliging. They did not forecast any snow to hit before or on Christmas. I was broken-hearted but decided to start my own campaign to have snow on that special morning. I wrote a letter to Santa, begging him to send snow before he traveled here on Christmas eve. I spent evenings staring at my mom’s manger scene on our mantle, touching the ceramic figure of the baby Jesus and wishing for snow… please, please send me snow for Christmas. I’d go to bed and wake up in the mornings, eagerly peering out my window to see if the shimmery flakes had fallen.

Each morning I was disappointed.

Christmas Eve came. Not a single flake of snow had fallen. I was beside myself in misery and made one desperate last plea to the baby Jesus in the manger scene (it was far too late to send another letter to Santa, as this time period is in the ancient years predating email). Staring at the scene for what I felt was an extraordinarily long time (for a little girl) I begged and wished and pleaded (inside my head) with all of my might. Barely even hopeful anymore, I headed dejectedly to bed so that Santa could come…

Now, growing up, I lived in a drafty, two-story farm house. It was the best house to grow up in and I miss it to this very day, at 41 years old. Back then, on Christmas mornings, my sisters and I were not allowed to go downstairs until we woke our parents up, which we’d typically do by collectively jumping on their bed, excitedly. Then, my father would go downstairs (an enclosed stairwell, with a door at the bottom), and “check the house” to make sure that Santa and his reindeer or any stray elves were well and truly gone, and that things were in their appropriate place. (One year, I remember hearing boxes being dragged across the kitchen floor into the living room, but I never connected the dots that my dad was just placing gifts under the tree that morning, probably to circumvent any middle-of-the-night snooping.)

On this year, I woke up with my sisters and went bouncing into my parents’ room, excited that Christmas morning was finally here! My father got up and went downstairs to do the usual “search” for Santa, while we girls used the bathroom and anxiously awaited at the top of the stairs. We heard some voices and I was suddenly feeling butterflies in my stomach. Was Santa still here?! My father opened the door and laughingly shouted up that Santa had left a few extra gifts this year and to come downstairs and see. Two of my sisters and I ran down the steps and walked into our living room, where the tree was overflowing with presents. Looking down the room, next to the couch, was another one of my sisters, with her boyfriend and two friends. These were Santa’s extra “gifts” to us. Confused, I questioned why they were there and they laughed and said, “look outside.”

I looked outside.

Overnight, Santa had brought with him a huge lake effect blizzard, blanketing everything in a deep layer of snow (and forcing my sister and her friends to quickly detour from their night out to the safety of the nearest house, trapping them all overnight in our living room).

It was the best Christmas in my young life: my fervent snow wishes had been answered!

And the moral of this story?  "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it... and then some!"

Okay, if you've enjoyed your stop here and my story, I invite you to please enjoy more lovely stories over here.

December 1, 2011

December Two Thousand Eleven

Look!  Quick! Did you see that?

whhhhoooooooossssssshhhhhhhhhh

Did you?  Did you see that?


wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Yep, that's another month just gone.  It is now officially December 2011!  That means that there are only

31 Days 

left in this year.  Thirty-one itty, bitty days.  That's

744 Hours 

left in 2011.   Ooooh, I have so much I'd like to do.  I wonder how much time I will really have.  Let's check it out.

Let's take away the 8 hours each night that I'll hopefully get in sleep, that leaves me

504 Hours 

in December 2011.  Okay, now let me take away the hours in which I'm working at my day job.  17 nine-hour days (I'm including my lunch break), hmmmm... this leaves me with

351 Hours

Plus some time that I'll put in working at Inside Out, plus, I do have some events coming up... gatherings with friends, travel and such.  After those time commitments (as of today), I'm left with

279 Hours

Now, there are certain things I do every week... preparing and cooking dinners, grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, paying bills, sending and responding to family/friends in email/phone calls, pet maintenance, etc.  Let's guesstimate an average of 1.5 hours per day to handle those  regular "life tasks", PLUS with the holidays coming up, I will be baking more and definitely spending lots of time wrapping presents.  All of these things will leave me with

186.5 Hours

Which is... holy frijole... it's only



7.8 Days!

I have just over a week left in 2011!!  8 days!!  I'd better hurry up and get all of those things on my 2011 "list" done! Wait... I'm taking a vacation in December, so out of that 7.8 days, I'll be on vacation for 7 days.  That leaves me just

0.8 Days

of "free time" in December! How will I do it?  Will I do it?  Oh my gosh!  The pressure!  How can I only have point-8 days left in the year?!  That's crazy!  Sorry, but I gotta run!

(Thank goodness I really don't think this way, but what a perspective!)

How about you?  What's the last month of the year look like in your world?

November 25, 2011

After Black Friday Giveaway


Hello!

Have you recuperated from your Thanksgiving gluttony?  Did you partake of the Black Friday mania?  I did not... I do most of my shopping online, anyway.  I'm not a fan of grumpy shoppers. I AM a fan of happy shoppers. I try to be the latter, and I always try to make the cashier smile.  But mostly, I just fire up Amazon.com or other sites to shop at.

Well, one of the sites I was browsing recently is My Memories.



And today, as the image above suggests, I'm doing a giveaway for their software!  (Keep reading for info on how to win!)

I don't know if you were reading way back when, when I decided I thought I maybe might want to try digital scrapbooking.  I own Photoshop and I've seen what wonderful things people have made, digi-wise.  Of course, it's taken me nearly two years to dabble in it to see if it's something I like.  One of my delays was simply: Photoshop. I enjoy it for certain reasons, but I did not want to take the extra time to learn some of the tricks I thought were involved with digi scrapbooking.  I know there are classes out there at Jessica Sprague, and I have considered but never jumped.  Then I found My Memories digital scrapbooking suite.

I'll be honest.  They approached me and asked me to give it a try.  It was good timing.  I was finally ready to try something new and (hopefully) easy on the side of digi/hybrid.  So, why  not?  I downloaded the software and dabbled in it for a while.

I was pretty pleased with what they offered.  Now, to be fair, I have not spent days and days in the software, but I did spend about 8 hours in it, playing and figuring things out.  I did not watch any tutorial, but I know there are some, including this one:



Now, what did I think? Overall, I liked it and I think it'll be something I will use over and over again.  That said, I'm never giving up traditional scrapbooking...

My Memories Suite was sufficiently easy for the beginner (me).  I am thankful I'm computer savvy, though, but if you hover over different buttons for the screen tip, anyone can easily get started, even someone who isn't all that computer savvy.  What I liked best is I didn't have to think, or create, my own "things".  I just basically used the "drag and drop" method to pull things over and then simple editing tools to change colors and shading.  The package comes with some papers and embellishments, very basic.  Of course, there are plenty of add-ons over at their site, where I spent many hours browsing and downloading.  There are many FREE downloads, and then the priced packages are there too, which are much more robust.  And, if you have downloaded digi supplies from other vendors, you can pull those in too while you're working on a layout.

My Memories is also a great design tool, which I might use as well to create sketches.  But it's certainly more versatile than as a sketch machine.

Let me share my very first, baby-steps digi layout with you (be gentle):



I spent a long time on this, even though it's very simple.  Mostly because I was playing around with this feature or that feature so I was moving things around a lot.  This is "all me" in that I didn't use a premade sketch or drag-n-drop template.  I just placed things and moved things around, changed the colors and the papers several times, added embellishments and deleted them.  Wished for a "splatter"  but couldn't find one in the items I downloaded (although I'm sure there was one out there somewhere).  I settled on the swirly doodle.  The best part of the layout?  It was a wonderful Inside Out moment for me and working through my residual depression over losing Hunter last March.

After spending so much time on that layout, I used a preloaded template for this one:



Snip Snap!  This sucker was done in 5 minutes.  Now, THAT was gratifying!  Yes, I do believe I like it.

How to Win:

Now, today is YOUR day to win a chance to get this software for FREE.  Seriously, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me why you digi (or want to digi) to win a free downloadable copy of this fabulous software.   For an extra chance to win, visit the My Memories site and view their digi kits and tell me which one you like the best.  Yet another opportunity to put your name in the hat: follow their blog, like them on Facebook or follow them in Twitter and then come back and leave another comment telling me which one(s) you did.  That's up to five chances to get your name into the hat.  This will be open for comments  until 5pm Eastern Time on Friday, December 2nd.  Please pass the word...

If you don't want to play along to win, but you like what you see and want it NOW, click the blinkie to the right for $10 off My Memories Suite and use the code below the blinkie.  Using that code will also give you a $10 off coupon for downloads, so that's $20 in savings.  Pretty good deal.

It's fun, it's easy, and it could be yours for FREE!  What a great holiday gift to yourself.

November 24, 2011

Before and After...

Thank you, everyone, for all of your supportive words in my last post.  Today is Thanksgiving in the USA, and I want to say I'm so thankful for YOU... but honestly?  I'm not just thankful today, but every day... for your time when you read my blog, your interaction, your support and your sharing.

I have had a really good week this week.  So much to share.  But, as today is the Thanksgiving holiday, the one day a year that seemingly is all about gluttony, I wanted to share with you my family's superoverindulgences.  Is that a word?  Oh well, today it is.

First, let me share with you that The Hubs is a turkey-a-holic.  He LOVES his turkey.  Me?  I'm a bit more "meh" about turkey.  I think I get it from my dad.  BEFORE I met The Hubs, I actually detested turkey.  But AFTER I tasted one of his, I was won over.  Well, for the day anyway.  He makes a darn good bird.

The biggest challenge I have before Thanksgiving is finding a bird that is "big enough".  Most people go out to buy a turkey based on how many people are coming to dinner, doing some mathematical equation such as "X number of pounds times Y number of people equals a Z pound turkey" or some such nonsense.  At our house?  The equation is: "buy the biggest damn turkey you can find!"  This year was a small one, compared to some previous years:





But it was quite big enough for me. 

As I wasn't home while The Hubs was dressing the turkey, I couldn't snap a "BEFORE" shot of the ol' girl.  While he was preparing her for the oven, I was at my first Zumba class.  Yes, seriously, I was Zumba-ing on Thanksgiving morning with my gal pal CT.  It was fun!

However, I did get a beautiful picture of our bird AFTER it was done:




And here it is AFTER the cooking bag is removed, getting ready to be "unstuffed":

Lori, this photo is for you...
Now, to share with you our feast, but before I head to the food, here's the empty table BEFORE everything is laid out:


Notice anything?  Yes... that table has only four plates set on it.  No, there isn't a kiddie table anywhere... this turkey and feast will be served to four people.

Now let's carve the turkey... BEFORE The Hubs eats it all:



He's been nibbling at it by this point.  So much for "saving room"... he's already "tasted" so much!

AFTER he's done carving, I set the food on the table and call the kids.  Here is what it looked like BEFORE we started eating...





Holy feast, Batman!

Sadly, I was too busy stuffing my face to take any "during" shots, plus the kids would have had a fit, considering they had basically lounged about in bed watching movies all day ("I have to do my hair before you take a picture!").  I'll admit, though... we barely made a dent in it all. 

Yeah, I knew that would happen.

But the turkey looks like we gnawed her to the bone:

AFTER we took all the meat off the bone.  Two giant storage bags of leftover meat and
one full sized breast in the freezer for a later dinner, unless The Hubs pulls it out
to munch on it before I make said dinner.  He's such a turkey-a-holic!
No one was hungry for desserts, but I had a lovely apple pie and pumpkin pie ready.

Bummed my crust "fell in" on one side, but this was YUMMY!

I failed to get a photo of the apple pie after it was baked, but here's a BEFORE photo to prove I made one!

Dutch apple pie with a crumbly topping... more about this pie later...

Well, I hope you enjoyed seeing the absolute over-indulgence of our family on this lovely holiday.  We are all barely able to move here, although they have all gone back for desserts by the time I published this post. 

BEFORE I take off, though, again... thank YOU for all that you do.  I am so grateful to have you in my life.  Now go on... have a slice of pie!

November 17, 2011

An Apology

I have been largely absent for the past month (or more) from blogging.  I have shown up with a post, here and there.  But mostly, not invested in what I was writing (with the recent exception of Storytelling Sunday).  I want to apologize.  I wish I could explain.  There's nothing "major" going on in life that has prevented me from writing more often, or better posts, or sharing the crafty goodies I've been working on, or sharing the recent valley in my fitness quest.    There's nothing wrong, I'm not overwhelmed with work or family or pet situations.

I suppose, I've just been uninspired.  It's as if my brain is tired. 

I often sit with my laptop and open a new post and just stare at the screen.  Sometimes literally for hours.  And then I shut it down without publishing anything and put the laptop away.

It bugs me.

Because I truly love to write.   I truly love to interact with all of you out in cyberland.  And I know I miss it. 

My brain is tired.

It's been doing a lot of work lately.  Sometimes I wish my mind came with an "off" switch.  I guess even though have electrical impulses, it doesn't come with a breaker box.  :)

So, bear with me.  I'm here.  I'm around.  I'm not closing up shop here, not at all.  But, for a while, it seems I will be "less". 

Just for a while.

Please don't give up on me/my blog yet.  I absolutely have so much more to share.

Let me just get my brain to relax a little first. 

November 15, 2011

Just Something Fun...

A while back, during a blog hop I shared with you a tongue twister.  As a child, I was always fascinated by these... as a budding perfectionist, I wanted to "win" the game of "five times fast".  Somewhere, buried in this house of mine, I still have my tongue twister book that I would read and re-read.  Until I find it, today I'm sharing with you one of my favorite tongue twisters.  It probably was one of my favorites because I lived in New York (state) for much of my younger life...

Unique New York

Okay, I dare you - say it fast, five times in a row.  Can you do it?

November 10, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love November

10) The leaves finally stop falling off the trees. Because there are none left to fall. Eventually...



9) I stop sweating (except for when I’m with the Sadist, but that’s normal)… and I hate to sweat so this is a big deal for me.

8) Looking back at what I’ve accomplished this year.

7) My house starts to smell like cinnamon and spice. (I’m a Scentsy freak and a candle snob)

6) Christmas music starts, and that doesn’t bug me anymore. In fact, I embrace it.

5) Sales!

4) Sending out Christmas cards (later in the month) to people whom I haven’t talked to most of the year. (Yeah, I guess I should send out more mail or keep in better touch, but sometimes, reaching out that once a year is special…)

3) The air seems fresh (probably because of the cold snap) and clear.



2) Snuggling up in my blankets in my cold house with my kitties laying next to me. Of course, soon I overheat, but the beginning is what counts!

1) November contains the ONE DAY in a year where gorging on high-fat and high-sugar foods is socially acceptable, even approved and encouraged without guilt or (hopefully) remorse.




For more 10 Things on the 10th, visit Shimelle's blog!

November 7, 2011

A Hah-Ha Moment

Yes, you read that right... welcome to my Hah-Ha moment.  No, not A-Ha... it was a true Hah-Ha moment.'

You see, I received my Connection Kit from Scrapbooking from the Inside Out tonight.  It had been a rough day, one of those "out of bed on the wrong side" kinds of "poor me" days.  So, when I arrived home to see the goody box waiting for me, things started to look up.

Sadly, my brain was still numb.  In a fuzz.  My brain's synapses were just not firing well.

As I was going through all of the goodies, I came across this little tag:





and I thought to myself... (seriously...)

"A bun dance?  I've never heard of that.  What would that be?  I wonder if my kids would know.  A bun dance.  Is it a type of dance?  Like the Electric Slide or the Running Man?"

(Yeah, I totally understand that those dances date me, but wait, it gets worse.)

I looked at the other tag cards which simply said, "beautiful" and "forever and ever".  I looked back at the card that was bewildering me...

"Maybe it's ABUN Dance.  But what's ABUN?  No, it has to be A Bun Dance... maybe as in, 'how does a bun dance?'  Oh, Kai, that's just silly... why would a scrapbook company talk about a bun and it dancing?"

(sigh.  I can't believe I'm sharing all of this, it was so embarrassing...)

Then...yes... there it was.  The dawning of understanding:

"ABUNDANCE!  I get it now!"

*covers face and shakes head*

See?  Get it?  It's too funny not to be a Hah-Ha moment!

Silly Kai.  Go to bed now and get some sleep...

(If you would like your very own A Bun Dance card, please buy a Connection Kit over at Inside Out... and you, too, could have your very own Hah-Ha moment.)

November 6, 2011

Storytelling Sunday: The Skinny Dipping Scare

Once long ago, in a land far away… well… really this story takes place on the shores of Lake Ontario. 

source

 Two little girls, one with dark hair and one with blond, the very best of friends, practically grew up there.  One of the little girls, Shanna*, actually did grow up there.  Her house’s front yard was the great lake itself.  The other little girl, Chloe, simply adored water…and Shanna… so staying at her BFF’s house was always a dream come true.  Living only a few miles away made it easy to share the lake life.  So much of her young life was spent at Shanna’s house that nearly all of her fondest childhood memories come from that home and that family.

On this day, Shanna and Chloe were doing what they loved best in the summer at the lake: swim.  Swimming out far into the lake, as far as their young limbs could comfortably carry them, they found a sand bar that they could stand upon, looking back at the shore and the houses in the distance with the water lapping at their knees.  It was as if they were filled with magic and walking on water!

After some time on the sand bar, they frolicked back toward the shore, playing like fresh-water dolphins.  Midway there, as they were floating in the gentle waters, Shanna asked her friend, “Have you ever skinny dipped?”  Flushing with embarrassment, her cheeks showing extra pink on her fair skin because of the sun kisses she’d received that day, Chloe exclaimed, “No!”  

Shanna arched her cute, dark eyebrows and said, “D’ya wanna?”

It was one of those questions where you knew it was probably not the “good” and “right” thing to do.  And it was also one of those times when the little devil on your shoulder out-shouts the little angel on the other shoulder.  Sometimes it felt good to be “bad”.  Chloe grinned.  “Yeah.”

Treading water, as they were in a place where their feet did not touch, the two girls took off their swimsuits, giggling and glancing back at the shore in the distance.  The water was murky enough that it not only gave them privacy from any people who might be looking out at them, but from each other as well.   It was a strange feeling to have the water lapping all around their bodies, every place imaginable, and it made them giggle harder, feeling free, like they imagined Mermaids would feel.

“What should we do with our suits?” Shanna asked.

Chloe dove beneath the water, disappearing for several moments.  Coming up, she angled herself toward shore, aligning herself with one of Shanna’s neighbor’s boat dock.  She dove beneath the waters again.  Rising to the surface again she said, “I found a rock. We can weigh our suits down with it.”  

Chloe took Shanna’s suit and dove down, down until her fingers brushed the large rock.  She placed the suits beneath it and kicked to the surface again.  The girls had a few laughs and horsed around, making sure to never rise up out of the water very far.  Even though there was no one on shore, AND they were pretty far away, they still worked hard to maintain some privacy, while relishing in the feeling of total freedom!  

Time passed and as they came up from air from one of their many dives beneath the water, Shanna gasped!  Looking toward what had grabbed Shanna’s attention, Chloe noticed Shanna’s mother on the shore, calling to them.  It was time to come in out of the water and get dinner.  

Terrified, the girls looked at each other.  “Where are the bathing suits?” Shanna whispered.  Shouting to her mom, she said, “Be right there!”  But her mom didn’t leave the shore line, watching the girls to make sure they were coming for dinner.

Chloe realigned herself with the dock and dove beneath the waters. Desperately, she felt around for the rock she knew was holding their suits.  She had no luck and surfaced again.  Taking another deep breath, back under water she went, continuing the search.  Through the murky darkness of the water, she could see Shanna swimming around too, touching the bottom and causing the sand to billow up, obscuring her view even more.

The both surfaced.  It had only been seconds, but if felt like far too long to keep Shanna’s mother waiting.

Shanna looked slightly panicked.  Chloe took a deep breath, fighting to contain the tears that always come when she’s scared or panicked.  They looked at each other, wordlessly saying in their expressions, “what are we going to do?”  

Chloe again realigned herself with the dock, checked her distance from the shore and inhaled deeply.  Diving down, she tried swimming straight for the dock, feeling for the rock as she went.  Maybe they had drifted further from shore.  Water could be deceiving.  

Her fingers touched cloth.  Oxygen expended, she surfaced quickly, gasping for air and speaking at the same time, “I found them!”  She took another breath, pushed herself straight down to where she found the rock and rescued both of their suits.  Surfacing again, she tossed Shanna’s suit to her.  Both, treading water, quickly donned their swimwear and then swam as quickly as they could toward Shanna’s mother, and dinner.  

Relieved is not a big enough word to describe the feelings they had.  But they also both felt a huge sense of newly found bravery, and freedom.  

 What a wonderful summer day that was!

*names have been changed to protect the skinny dippers. 

Thank you for sharing my first experience at Storytelling Sundays (and skinny dipping - shhhh)... I finally remembered!  :)

November 2, 2011

Can You Feel It?

It's THAT season.  The time where I get all jumpy and restless. I get excited for the cold weather (yeah, I'm sure I'm the only person in the northern  USA who enjoys snow and winter) and I start dreaming of all the things I want to do for the holidays.  I'm not just talking about Christmas here... but Thanksgiving too.

Here's a teeny, tiny sample of what runs through my head on a daily basis (yes, daily)...

  • What desserts am I making for Thanksgiving this year?
  • What desserts am I making to give away to friends or take in to work to share?
  • What will be the menu?
  • Do I try something different or stick with the old stand-bys?
  • Will I get a big enough turkey? (Keep in mind we usually only have 4 or 5 of 'us' at Thanksgiving, but The Hubs is a HUGE turkey lover so we gotta get the biggest bird I can find.)
  • Do I have enough Christmas cards made?  Should I make more?
  • Should I get a head start on next years cards?
  • What should I do for my sisters this year (often I do nothing, sometimes I get inspired)?
  • Will I get "home" near Christmas at all?  (Usually, that would be a "no".)
  • I need to get letters to Santa printed off, like yesterday.
  • Do I allow myself to go over budget this year or am I sticking to it hard core?
  • What can I get on deals... whoops, I have no idea what people want so it's overdue to get letters for Santa up.
  • What do I want?
  • I need to update my finances and budget so I know what I can do, when.
  • What cookies will I bake this year?
  • What crazy decorations will the family do to my poor cookies this year?
Let's not even begin to talk about the crafty projects running around in my head, the TV shows and movies I have DVR'd  the new recipes I want to try cooking, and all of the writing I want to do.

It's enough to make a girl say, "CALGON!  Take me away!"

But it's not stressful. I am loving the feeling.  The anticipation.  The wonder of what will happen next.

I'm ready for the scents and sights and sounds of the season.  I'm ready for the change of pace.  I'm ready for the various days off from work.  I'm ready.  I have lots to do... but I'm ready.

Are you feeling it?  How does it feel for you?

October 31, 2011

I Used To Love It...

Halloween, that is.


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It was my favorite "holiday" and I adored getting dressed up, having Halloween parties with my friends, playing Halloween type games like bobbing for apples or making haunted "houses" in my basement - and non-Halloween games made more fun in the dark, like Hide-n-Seek. I have had two, maybe three parties as an adult and loved doing that as much as when I was a teen. I love carving pumpkins - the smell and the feel of the "guts". I love baking and seasoning the seeds. The Hubs and I used to decorate our house up like crazy (inside) at Halloween... cobwebs, spiders, bats, ghosts and skeletons. I loved watching scary movies and telling scary stories. I loved both the sinister and the silly sides of Halloween.

It was awesome.

But as I've gotten older, it became more and more of a chore and less of a fun thing to do. I still love the "concept" but I don't love the "work".

I don't know what happened.

Maybe my kids drained it out of me.

It makes me sad.

Maybe I'll get my love for it back someday.

I can only hope...

This is Halloween...

Everybody Scream! :) (and eat candy)

October 27, 2011

CRAFT Retreat - New Options...

A while back, I shared with you a retreat that's coming up soon, in November.  It's called CRAFT - Creating Reflective Art For Transformation and it's hosted by my favorite place, Scrapbooking from the Inside Out, and the founder of that community and club, Rachel Kaufman.  Recently, she opened up space for people to sign up for a single day or a single class... and yes, there's still a few spaces for the entire amazing retreat weekend.

Click the picture below to learn about the details of this amazing opportunity to explore your inner world.


I hope you are able to take advantage of this ... it has the potential to be an amazing experience.  I have been holding out hope for a bit of a luck so that I'd be able to attend, but it's not coming... I wish I was able to make it out there!  The project sneaks have been absolutely fantastic, and I can't wait to see the "after" photos.

If you go, please share the experience!

October 26, 2011

Vintage-y Finds...

So, I traveled away from my Ohio home back to my "home" in NY this weekend.  Home - where I was born and raised.  I must say, I do still miss it very much.  This trip "home" had some purpose.  I was alone, for one, which meant I didn't feel the pressure of making sure The Hubs and The Boy or The Girl were entertained.  (Not that they take much entertaining, as long as they control the TV remote control or can get on their computer games somewhere, somehow.) 

I had originally intended to try and visit some old friends and past neighbors that I haven't seen in too many years.  I pondered it quite a bit, actually.  I never took the steps to actually do so, though.  I did get to meet up with one of my sisters and brothers in law for a lovely lunch and chitter chatter, but outside of my dad and stepmom, that was it for my "visiting" while home.

What I did do was join my dad in the basement looking at some old photos and maps.  This prompted me to hike my bod up into my dad's attic and pull down all of the photos I could find.  And what finds I found!   

One of my favorite finds wasn't a photo.  As my dad and I were pawing through things in the attic, and in the basement, he pulled out a book that I was so familiar with, it was like a long lost friend when I saw it again.  My sisters, for sure, would be even MORE familiar with it, as they had more time with it:

Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book - Revised and Enlarged!



My mom's cookbook.  It was given to her (per a message written in the inside cover) by her Aunt in 1957.  The book itself was published in 1956.  Now, I realize there are many of you out there reading this that may not think of this as "vintage", but as it is from my very young childhood (circa mid 70's) I certainly feel it is vintage.  At the very least, it invokes imagery in your mind from certain days gone by...

For example, the images in the book:





As someone who seeks out and uses images in training materials I create, I would definitely classify those images as "vintage".

My favorite part of the book, however, is the Special Helps section.  There are some amazing tidbits of wisdom here, even for today's "day and age", while still very plainly making clear what the woman of the house should be doing each day. 









I love that the second page of the Special Helps focuses on getting exercise and fresh air... wearing comfortable shoes and educating the reader that sitting takes less energy than standing.  Here are a few examples of these golden nuggets of wisdom:




 
But when I read this, I was a little shocked:



Really?  The floor?  Not even allowed to take a quick nap on a bed, or even a couch... but no, lie down on the floor on your back.  Light as a feather, stiff as a board...

But a few Special Help blocks away there was this concession:




Ahhhhh... there we are.  We are allowed, if but for a moment, to rest in a chair.  I can feel the bliss now...

Then there was this gem:



Uhm, yeah... this is, like, an every day situation at my house.  The only day I DO cook?  Sunday.

But my all time favorite that holds true even today?  This one...



It was a great weekend.  I had a blast going through tons of photos, finding memories from my childhood like this cook book and generally spending time in my hometown with my family (or pieces of my family).  It was tough to come back, but I have so many new plans for things I wish to do.  Things to refresh my spirits.

I hope everyone out there is making the time, and taking the time, to refresh your spirits!

October 22, 2011

If I Could Paint...

If I could paint, my choice of "muse" would most certainly be the sky.  I'm a total sky-gazer.  I am in awe of the "pictures" that come from the sky.  On my way home from the Sadist's last Tuesday, I was completely floored by the rays of sunshine beaming down to the earth through the dark, smoldering clouds.  It's the kind of scene that I would never be able to capture, but I tried.  Sadly, I only had my cell phone on me, but I snapped this:




I wonder if I had my "real" camera how much better the photo would have been.  Regardless, in my heart I know that no photo would ever be able to capture the sheer beauty of it.  Just awe inspiring!

October 18, 2011

Every Once in A While...

Do you have moments where you feel overwhelmed, sucked down, stuck in a rut and churning at the waves that keep tumbling over you, but getting nowhere?  Do you have moments where every task you cross of your list is replaced by three more?  When you have those dreams you're walking down a hallway to a door at the end but the hallway gets longer and longer and no matter how fast you run, you can't reach that damn door?  Do you have moments when it feels like everything around you is pressing in and you can't breathe?  When something bad happens - not huge, horrible bad - but unexpected not-good, that just knocks you enough off-kilter that the world seems a little harder to walk upon?

And then...


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Every once in a while in the middle of those moments a light shines and you get this absolute, to-your-pores feeling that everything is perfect - flaws and all - and Life is GOOD?  When you sit back, take a breath and realize, the clutter can wait, the dust bunnies can continue to propagate and balancing your checkbook can wait one more day?  That the "bad thing"... it could have been much, much worse? When you just feel like no matter what, you are Happy, and nothing can change that?

Yeah... it's that kinda moment.

I hope you have a WONDERFUL day today.

October 15, 2011

Bruce & Esther...

Okay, I'm going to make a confession.  I have never watched an Oprah Winfrey Show episode in my life.

Yep.  Tis true.  It may have been playing on TV in the background at someone's house that I visited but never once in my life did I purposely turn on Oprah with intent to watch the show.

I guess while I'm admitting things...

Confession #2 - the only thing I have ever watched Oprah in was the movie The Color Purple.  And I only saw that on TV, with commercials.  Just, like, maybe three years ago.

Confession #3 - I "borrowed" an "O" magazine from the waiting room for an appointment I once had. I even asked if I could borrow it and promised to bring it back at the next appointment, after I finished a Very Important Article about living the life you were meant to live.  The confession part?  I never returned the magazine.  Oh, and I never finished the article.   Oh!  And the magazine still sits by my bedside among all the other various reading media waiting for my attention.


Confession #4 - I once said, "she looks like E.T. (the extra-terrestrial)" and a cockatoo (that's a bird, people) laughed.   To be fair, this was after she lost her first round of weight, and I really thought she'd gone to far.  I think she's very pretty, now.

Confession #5 - I, once upon a time, was really angry with her.   Hot, white, furious, long-term anger.  This kept me from watching her even longer.  I'm over it now. 


Confession #6 - I want to meet her.

Now why would I want to meet someone who I never really took much interest in, and once detested?  Because I'm impressed... I'm in awe... I'm even humbled by her.  I want to know her secret... I want just a pinky-full of her energy, her love of life, her belief in impossible things.

I began, only recently, to be interested in her because Rosie O'Donnell is now on the Oprah Winfrey Network and I happen to be a little more than a little interested in Rosie and her trials and tribulations.


(I'm sure you're wondering what in the world all of this Oprah schtuff has to do with my subject of today's post:   Bruce and Esther.  It's okay, keep reading.  It'll all make sense soon.)

So, now that Rosie has her own show on OWN, I have begun watching the OWN network here and there and have been drawn into Oprah's Lifeclass episodes.  Last night, while watching one of those, I started wandering around her online site.  And while I was wandering the site, I found this section:


And since I'm a sucker for Joy, and the pursuit of it, I started reading.  Some of them were very good.  Some I'm going to adopt toot-sweet (quick - what movie is that from?).

One of the "rules" said... "13. Prior to visiting your parents, you are required to watch Bruce and Esther Huffman from McMinnville, Oregon, test out their new webcam."

I started to smile, as I am traveling very soon to visit my own parents, and could only imagine...

... turns out my imagination wasn't quite as fun as the video.  Which brought me here to share it with you ... it will definitely bring a smile to your face.  It made me laugh!  I hope I'm not the last person in the world to be seeing this... but even if you already have, it's still good for another grin and chuckle:


October 14, 2011

Bazaar Remnants

I just love the word bazaar... and I love to purposely use it instead of bizarre. Not that anyone listening to me would know the difference.  But in writing... it's definitely more fun.  Like this...

Over the weekend I tried to sell some of my hand-crafted items but nothing really sold and so I thought to myself, "how bazaar!?"  It really was a bazaar situation.  Not a good bazaar situation either.



Okay, I'll stop.  Perhaps I'm only cracking myself up, in which case y'all are reading, groaning and getting ready to click on your browser's back button.  *hands up* I surrender to your better humor. 

The bazaar was a fail for me.  I blame it on the lack of attendance.  It was a beautiful day and other than the baked goods that were being hawked by the 5th graders, I don't think many of the vendors did very well.  So, while it was a let down, I am trying to rationalize it that way. I did sell one set of winter-themed cards.  That was great.  I sold them to someone I knew from work, though, so while it was awesome, somehow, it didn't "count".   Not reeeeaaaaallly. 

Okay, so...I already showed you one card design that I took with me. None of those sold. So, yeah, those of you on my Christmas card mailing list, don't be surprised if that familiar little something arrives at your door in a few weeks.  Let me now share with you one of the non-card items I took to sell.  I thought these were very cute.  I wanted a set (and I'm keeping one), so I was more than a little disappointed that none sold.   

Seasonal door hangers:


I showed you a teaser of this one earlier as well.  Autumn.

On the back of Autumn is Winter:



The second half of the set is, of course, Spring and Summer:




I made enough of these sets that I know that all of my family is getting one for Christmas (sorry those of you who read my blog - uhm... surprise!) and the rest, well... maybe this will prompt me to start an Etsy shop.  Who knows?!

I had one other Christmas card set for sale as well:





So if you don't get the Peace one...

...surprise!


October 11, 2011

The 21-Day Finale

I have SO much catching up to do.  Don't think I've forgotten about a bit of it. I know I need to catch y'all up on the 21-Day diet, my scrapbooking retreat (hoo boy, not all happy stories there), and the beast of a craft bazaar from this past weekend.


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To start, let me catch you up on the 21-day detox/diet that I started back in August and finished on September 1.  For all of the (few) stories I told during that time, you can visit my fitness foibles page.

Overall, I lost eleven pounds.  ELEVEN pounds.  I was super stoked about that.  It was certainly an awesome kickstart to get me moving in the right direction again.  My fitness foibles page does not show the eleven pounds... it shows eight.  This is because I was most definitely moving in the wrong direction before I started this challenge. 

What did I learn?  DURING the challenge, I learned that I am very satisfied eating only proteins and fruits and vegetables with very little carb-y, bread-y food even though breads and pretzels and potatoes have always been my go-to foods.  I never in a zillion years thought I would be able to not eat those things and be satisfied.  But I was.

I learned that after the first three days were over, I didn't crave sweet things.  This is a lifelong fight for me... sweets after every meal... sweets to treat...sweets to soothe...sweets just because.  I learned that when I eat right, with plenty of vegetables, protein and fruit, my body doesn't look for the sweets.

I learned that I eat for so, so, so many reasons other than hunger.  And when that crutch was taken away, I learned that things come out of me that are somewhat shocking (poor Hubs).  I have so much to work through and I need to stop burying it inside of me and keeping it from coming out by stuffing it down with food.

I learned that I could set a goal and reach it, with very, very little deviation.  REACHING it, is actually the key point there.

I learned that I could go out to a restaurant and eat healthy choices and leave feeling satisfied.  I learned that pot luck meals at my office do not mean I have to change what I plan to eat, for my own health.  Yes, I may have stuffed my face with four (yes, four) plates of salad, but I didn't eat the other foods there.

I have to admit... all these things I've learned, a month and a half later, have nearly disappeared.  Because of this, I have learned just by writing this post, how quickly I have forgotten and how quickly old habits die hard.

The best part of the whole damn thing?  I finally, FINALLY! broke through my mental and physical "block" - the 25 pound mark.  When I started Weight Watchers oh-so many years ago, I never hit that 25-pound mark, and I tried doing the Weight Watchers thing for close to three years.  I had the same number block/plateau with the Sadist and for the better part of a year (October 2010 until this diet August 2011), I was bouncing around gaining a little, losing a little or not doing anything at all; never getting past that 25-pounds-off mark.  I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels to be well below that barrier and I'm NOT looking back.

When I decided to do the 21-day diet, I kept telling myself that it was only 3 weeks of my life and that I could do ANYTHING for three weeks.  When it was over, I promised myself that I'd never have to do it again if I absolutely hated it.  But you know what?  I didn't hate it. I actually loved 90% of it.  I do refuse to eat anything that makes me gag (and I did, on that diet!) and so, I need to now find my way back to the 90%.

And I will.  With the right mindset, and a little help from my friends, I will.


October 10, 2011

Seeking a Memory...

Hello bloggy friends...

I'm seeking someone with a memory; someone who has been around for a while reading my blog... I sure hope this person STILL reads my blog.  A loooooooong time ago, possibly during the first run of Blogging for Scrapbookers, someone, somewhere shared a link on her blog to another blog.  The linked blog was about a woman who, while healing from a divorce, redesigned the interior or her home completely by herself... DIY.   She punched through walls, built archways and redesigned a bathroom from basically the floorboards up.  She created a nook for her piano (I think it was a piano).  She did it all on her own.   I'm looking for that blog post.

If anyone out there remembers such a post, or knows how I can come by viewing it again, I would greatly appreciate you.  As in, many hugs and kisses.  Well... maybe not the kisses, if you're not so inclined (I come from a kissy family, but I have become wise to the non-kissy ways of people out here in Ohio).  Regardless, I would send you lots of love.

I know I've been a bit on the quiet side.  I have so much in store... so many stories to tell... a whole lot of pictures to share.  It's just a matter of making the time and right now... there just isn't any.

Please be patient with me... I will be back en force I promise.

Hugs for now!

October 7, 2011

Getting Close...

The craft bazaar is getting close - Saturday has zoomed up.  I can't believe how very little (in my opinion) I have ready.  I wish I'd done more, but time limits prevail and thus, I go with what I have.  I promised you pictures, and here is one...





... one of the sets of Christmas cards I'm selling.  I made this design first waaaay back, I think in August.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make more (there are a lot of pieces) but when presented with this bazaar, I though this card would be perfect to try and sell.  So, I have made more.

I do have more to share, but so exhausted.  Still using every spare minute creating, but I promise... more to come, more to come. 

PS> if you are a typical recipient of my Christmas cards, don't be surprised if this one ends up in your hands closer to the day.  If they don't sell, this is what I'm sending out!  :)

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