November 25, 2011

After Black Friday Giveaway


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 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. 


 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?


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