Monday, July 31, 2023

Me on Monday

Let me tell you about my Saturday!

First of all, we had unexpected out-of-towners who arrived on Wednesday. I thought they were staying until Sunday, so imagine my joy when I found out they were leaving Saturday morning on Friday!!! I couldn’t wait to get up in my scrapbook room. You know this hobby of ours that is supposed to be so relaxing and therapeutic? Well, today, it was anything but! 

I have Nancy’s round-robin and was excited to get it started. I was in my room by 9 a.m. and started pulling materials together. I got an idea pretty quickly and started cutting paper. I decided on how I was going to do the journaling and got Nancy’s permission to “tweak” it. Formatting it onto the card I wanted to use was pretty tricky. I was so happy with how the front side turned out. Then, when I was formatting the back side, I inadvertently printed the wrong text box and screwed it up! OMGosh! Of course, I didn’t have another journaling card like that. So, I covered it up with a bit of washi tape and paper and ran it through again. That turned out okay.

By this time, it’s 11 a.m. I decided to come downstairs, have lunch, and watch a movie. I had two things to do while I was down there: 
1. Design the title in Cricut design space on my computer, and 2. Do some hand stitching on a couple embellishments for the page. 

I played around with the title, wading through at least 50 of my 700+ fonts--I may have mentioned my font obsession before. They are all perfectly organized too! I couldn’t quite find the look I imagined. So, I decided to do an internet search since it’s a common enough saying. I found one that I loved. Turns out it was a “cut” file on Etsy. I’ve never tried anything like that, but certainly felt capable. I paid 3 bucks for it—I have never paid for a digital file before, but felt like Nancy was worth it since it’s absolutely perfect!! 

I got the download and realized I have no idea how to use it. Sooo, I went back to the internet and watched a 30-minute video to teach myself how to do it. Pretty simple. 

With that all set to cut, I read and took a brief nap. (BTW I watched The Boston Strangler while doing all of this—really good—Keira Knightly—I love her). Okay, I got sidetracked for a minute. At 4 p.m., I went back upstairs to finish the layout. Here’s how that went:

1. I took a page out of Pam’s book and did a test cut on scrap paper. This particular title has 3 levels. I only wanted to use two of them.
2. Started the first cut on the scrap cardstock. It didn’t cut all the way through. Then I realized I had it set for paper. 
3. Ran the next one on the good cardstock which the Cricut chewed up. That cardstock was thinner than the test.
4. Changed the setting to light cardstock and ran it on the next sheet of cardstock. That one worked.
5. Next cut was for the mat. It cut fine, but was the same size as the first cut.
6. The next try didn’t work as the thinking ball just kept spinning. I shut everything down and started over.
7. I’ve lost track of what happened next, but this is what I have--noe of which is usable:
I wasted a lot of good cardstock,but the title is done and looks really good. I ran out of time and wasn’t able to finish it on Saturday. I finished it on Sunday. But here's the kicker. The title was great---but, I realized when I was putting the layout together, I cut it on the wrong side. It was textured cardstock. So the pretty side is on the back!! Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Still it came our pretty good!
All I’ve got to say is that it was not a relaxing day. It was frustrating. 5 hours was a lot of time to not have finished. Oh well. It goes this way more often than not!

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Something for Sunday

I haven't done a book review in quite a while. Since July is drawing to a close, I thought I'd share my 5-star picks for the month. Out of the ten I read, four were big hits with me. Ten books in a month is a lot for me. I average about six or seven. Maybe the books I read were shorter this month.

Anyway, let's go:
1. Let me start by saying that I like Gretchen Wilson---but I don't love her. Meaning, I never felt the need to go to one of her concerts. What prompted me to read her book were two things: 1. I like autobiographies and 2. She grew up across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. I really enjoy books where I can relate to the locations and businesses they talk about. Anyway, she totally considers herself a redneck and by all definitions of the word, she and her family are. It's a very interesting story and I love her dedication to family. She has all relatives handling just about every aspect of her career and running her farm. I loved it.

2. Although this is a book of fiction, it takes place in Nashville. Again, I love that I know all the places mentioned in the book. This book is about the "haves" and the "have nots" with some surprising twists thrown in. 

3. This story is about all the families living on a cul-de-sac. You might think you know them, but each family has their own secrets and ultimately, surprises. 

4. This book is a psychological thriller. It's not scary or anything, in fact, it takes quite a while before any of the strange things start happening. Everyone seems pretty normal, although it's unrealistic to me that people fall in love in a day or two. I don't usually like books that are far-fetched, but I didn't see this ending coming and I LOVE books like that!!

The other books I read that were just so-so are:
The Night Portrait--we picked this for our girls book on vacation. We wanted something set in Italy. It's another that goes back and forth in time, highlighting the history of DaVinci's "Lady with an Ermine" portrait. It was all right, but if you already know about the monuments men, I wouldn't waste my time.

No Time Like the Future--autobiography of Michael J. Fox. I enjoyed this book and I love MJF, but it wasn't one of the best. Really, the best autobiography I've read in the past year was Viola Davis'. If I could, I'd give it 10 stars!

It All Comes Back to You--I almost gave this book 5 stars. It was a sweet story about a nursing home worker, Ronni, who bonds with an elderly woman, Violet. When Violet dies, Ronni stands to inherit her estate in exchange for writing a book of her (Violet's) life story. It goes back and forth in time--which is a favorite style of mine. But Violet was a little too "self-serving" for my taste.

The Prisoner--I usually like B.A. Paris' thrillers. This one was too far-fetched for me. The fact that I had to "look up" what it was about to remind myself says it all.

Agnes Grey--I read this book because I learned about the lesser known Bronte sister, Ann--while watching the docu-movie about Emily on the plane coming home from Italy. There's a reason that this book didn't become a classic. It's very similar to other books during that time period: young girl becomes governess to horrid children, falls in love with the local curate without his reciprocation, circumstances separates them, they get together at the very end with nothing but nonsense in-between. That's the entire book in a nutshell. There, consider you read it!

Women Talking--this book was highly rated. It's an interesting story, but I do not like ANY books where I cannot pronounce the names of the characters or tell if they are male or female. In this case, most were female, but my constant stumbling over the names and my inability to keep the characters straight, just frustrated me.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Scrapbook Saturday

Today, I'm devoting this entire post to what my plans are for my Italy layout. A few years ago, I decided that I do not want a whole book about one trip. For that matter, I don't even want more than a single layout. That leads me to getting creative to contain it all within one double-page spread.

Let's start with all of the memorabilia I collected on our trip. Maps make great backgrounds on the pages. There's a blue receipt, a sturdy envelope that contained hotel keys, a printed tag, two little pockets, a blue business card from a gelato place, green leaf from the hotel regarding recycling towels, a tri-fold card from the pillow menu, the breakfast menu order folder, green tag, some cute edged receipt and another little folder with pockets. 
I've printed my favorite pictures in two sizes.
Here's everything combined with the trip journal.
I have so much stuff, that I don't need many scrapbooking supplies. Still, I pulled a few things out--just in case I need a little something extra.

Then I added a few more things. I got the idea that in keeping with my goal of containing everything within a double-page spread, I am going to create a "mini book"--just sort of spread out. 

There's a little background story to that. A few weeks ago, I was a guest on The Scrap Gals podcast. One of the hosts made the comment that basically, each of my travel layouts are mini books with flip-ups, pull-outs, accordion folders, etc. That resonated with me and popped in my head when starting to plan the Italy trip. I took 4 sheets of navy 12 x12 cardstock and cut it in half to 6 x12. I folded each in half to create 8--6x6 cards. My plan is to use one for each of the 8 days of our trip. Of course, I'll have to be judicious in the photos I choose.
Next came sorting all the pictures and memorabilia into the appropriate days (I just use scrap paper for this) and jot down notes about each day. 
I then made a little sketch of what I was envisioning in my mind---because, God knows, I'll forget it by tomorrow! I'm using that breakfast menu folder for the title. Then, I got another idea. I just cannot turn off my mind---I'm always thinking---which isn't always the best use of my time! 
I came up with the idea of printing our Peaks and Pits on little cell phones--a printable from Ali Edwards that I cut up. "Peaks and Pits" is something we do at the end of every trip--each person names their favorite thing and least favorite thing of the trip. I had the thought that they would fit perfectly in the little black pocket. But, I only had two of them. That's when I decided that I would make my own and stitch them on the sewing machine.
Two and a half hours later, I had two of them. I had to format and print the journaling on the little cell phones and sew the pockets. That's when I decided that I didn't like the white thread since it didn't show up. I texted my friend, Karolyn with a request for her to re-thread my sewing machine. Remember, I don't really know how to sew. I bought my Singer for $75.00 about 15 years ago, just for scrapbooking. Karolyn has changed the thread because I can't seem to get it--I don't sew often enough to really learn anything. It was going to be several days before she was going to be able to do it. Well, I decided that it was ridiculous to wait for her to come over. I'm a reasonably intelligent person and should be able to figure it out. Instead of getting out the book--which I've done several times and couldn't figure out--I laid the black thread next to the white on my machine. Without removing the white thread, I just threaded the black over it. Then I carefully pulled out the white thread. Voila! Worked like a charm. Now I can use other colors whenever I want rather than just having Karolyn thread a single color for a year! Okay to be honest, I probably only really use my sewing machine about 6 times a year. Maybe I'll start using it more now. 
Since the formatting was done, it only took me about an hour and a half to make all of these. The black thread shows up much better.

I'm actually very excited to make this layout. But, I'm saving it for when I go on my scrapbook retreat in October. When I go on a retreat, I like to have things planned out. It will come together pretty quickly now.

At least I have one layout ready to go! Only 19 more!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Five Things Thursday

1. I'm starting with something we discovered a couple of nights ago. I was making shrimp and corn chowder for dinner with cornbread. I used all the milk for the chowder, not realizing I need 1/3 cup for the cornbread. I had already opened the box and put in the egg. I thought of just using water as I was going to have to throw it away, one way or another. Butch suggested using powdered Cremora. He put the water in a little bowl and added the creamer until it looked like milk. It worked like a charm! We could not tell a single difference. I would never have thought of it, but I'm glad he did!

2. There was a report on GMA about what is the best time to exercise. I do my walking first thing in the morning---pretty much as soon as I get out of bed. The report is that the benefits are essentially the same no matter what time you exercise during the day. But, if you work our in the morning, you burn a little more fat. 

Now, that seems to me that working out in the morning is best. How is it the same no matter when you do it if you burn more fat in the morning? Kind of a stupid report if you ask me!

3. So I'm reading this highly rated book that I'm not really loving: Women Talking. I have no idea where the recommendation came from. Anyway, I do love to learn new things and I learned a good one. We all know that we shed dead skin cells all the time. But, did you know that your top layer of skin is replaced every month? To the tune of 40 lbs. of skin cells over the course of your lifetime!! That's amazing. Now, if the skin cells could take some of the wrinkles with it--that would be something!!

4. It's tomato time!
This is almost too cute to eat!

5. These are all needlepoint pillows. I love how it looks, but considering I don't want people sitting on my pillows, I don't think I could have have my entire couch lined with them!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

What I Buy Wednesday

I didn't buy anything this week. However, that doesn't mean I didn't get something! 

Sandy and family sent us a floral arrangement as a thank-you for our Italy trip.
It was a cute little arrangement of roses. 

When I opened the card, there was something jank about it.

My name and address as well as the sentiment was cut out and taped onto a paper, cut a little crookedly. What I found the most unusual was that there was no identifying florist name or address anywhere. I didn't think that much of it at the time. Until...

...I sent Sandy a picture and a text thanking her. She responded by saying that wasn't what she paid for--along with a picture of what she had ordered. She was all over it!! The next day, I got another delivery.

The picture doesn't do it justice because I took it at night. But it's beautiful and very different from the first one I received. The card even improved.
That's when I realized that this florist tried to get away with sending an inferior product--which is why they didn't put any identifying information on it. I'm thinking it has to be the same florist because when Sandy called to complain, surely the company she used would require the local florist to make it right. Suddenly, they were happy to put their name on it!

I just wonder how many times florists get away with this. If I hadn't sent a picture to Sandy, she never would have known that it wasn't what she ordered. I'll be sure to do that every time I get flowers from someone. And, I'll ask for a picture whenever I send flowers. 

Lesson learned.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Travel Tuesday

I have a few travel observations:
1. This really bothered me.
We were in St. Peter's Basilica. I noticed that at the base of many of the beautiful statues, people have scratched graffiti in to the marble. What the...? It's so disrespectful and sacrilegious! 

2. When we were at the airport in Nashville, I saw this. 
I understand service dogs, but two for one person? I don't really understand. Seems like any dog can be considered a service dog. And then there was this:

 A dog in the ladies bathroom--in fact, there were two. There were several more in the restaurant area too. That bothers me. There are rest stops in the south that have areas for dogs. I'm not accustomed to seeing them in bathrooms and restaurants!

3. Now I've seen everything!
A bug zapper in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Queens. They must have a mosquito problem--along with the smell!

4. Mindy prides herself on being a good judge of suitcase weight.

Talk about "right on!" No extra bag fees for her!

5. Now this is just plain ridiculous!
A woman pushing a baby in a stroller, car seat on her back, rolling her suitcase with a large duffel on top along with her crossbody purse. Really, how much can one person deal with? What happens when she tries to board the plane. There's no way she can handle all that stuff. Ridiculous!

The things you see when you travel!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Me on Monday

Do you see it?
How about now? It's my first age spot. At least I thought so. I was so convinced that I actually cried over it. I didn't even tell Butch about it for a couple of days. When I told him, I was choked up again. Then I told the girls and choked up again. You know that saying, "It's HELL getting old?" Well, I never really paid attention to it. I'm just going along and living my life. Yes, I'm definitely noticing some things at 71 that I hadn't noticed before. But basically, I'm fit and healthy. I have a great heart and liver--oh and I can't forget about my really clear carotid artery. The biggest thing I notice is my lines--which I guess are called wrinkles. I always thought of those more as loose skin. Maybe it's a combination of both. And I definitely have some balance issues--mostly due to my fused toes. But that's not going away, so I just have to be careful and live with it.

So fast forward to a couple days ago. I hadn't really thought about the age spot once I accepted it. Then all of a sudden, I noticed this:
It's gone! Can that happen? Can age spots just magically disappear? I don't know. Now, lest you think it was a dab of chocolate or something, I haven't had chocolate in quite a while (well maybe a couple of pieces in Italy--but the age spot was before that). Anyway, it's gone. 

Now what? I guess I just continue on until the next one pops up. Perhaps that time, I'll be more prepared. I won't fret over it or shed a tear. After all, I'm already living with sags and bags. It's just the reality of aging. It's not hell. Far from it. I really can't complain. So I won't.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Something for Sunday

After my "What I Buy Wednesday" post, one of my blog friends asked to see my collection.
Here's the picture of my most recent additions from Italy--again--just to refresh your memory. The one on the left is Venetian while the one on the right is Florentine. 
Here's the whole collection. I have two of each--except for the new ones I just got and the colorful ones with the purple rim. That's the "set" that started my collection. One year, Mindy gave me a set of six of these for Christmas. I always serve champagne during the holidays--don't know why I don't serve it more often. I also use them for mimosas or Bellinis. 
A couple have gotten broken over the years--but that won't stop me from using them. I believe in using and enjoying my "stuff!" Why wouldn't I? No sense in saving them--for what? 

I have a collection of wine glasses too.
They aren't quite as fun as the champagne flutes, but I'll use them even with a Diet Coke. Any  drink seems special when you serve it in a fancy glass! am I right? Try it and see!

When I think about it, I have quite a few collections. I also have my Starbucks mugs. I don't think I ever set out to have all of these collections, it just seems to happen!!

Hmmm! Sounds like a scrapbook layout to me! At the very least, I should walk around the house and count my collections! Yeah, I'll add that to my list. I really should do it.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Scrapbook Saturday

Our AYM theme this year is "The Wonder Years." This month, it was my pick. I decided on: Who was your first crush? Everybody remembers their first crush! There were a few moans and groans from the girls--which I expected. I always want to make everybody really think and be creative. Everyone has a story to tell! I told them that there were ways to find photos--check out your class composites from picture day or neighborhood photos from when you were a kid. Butch even found some high school classmates by going to his high school website. And then there's social media. It might take a little work, but you can find things.

Janet sent me her layout:

This is my layout and story: 
Who was your first crush? 
That would be my 7th-grade boyfriend who didn't know he was my boyfriend!

Let me tell you about my 7th-grade boyfriend who didn’t know he was my boyfriend.

It all started at Camp Hawk in the summer of 1964. Basically, I was a tomboy—in a neighborhood full of boys. Sure I liked some of them, but nothing heart-stopping—until—I saw this boy at Camp Hawk. He was cute. I had a crush! I could say “end of story” right there, but there’s way more to it than that! To say I had a crush on him is an understatement. I had fallen, head-over-heels, follow you to the ends of the earth—love!! I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I found out his name—Phil Lambert—and where he lived—about a mile from us. Other than that, I knew he went to the public school only because if he’d gone to St. Aloysius, I would have known.

Anyway, Reenie and I rode our bikes by his house several times. I probably would have died if I’d actually seen him then. Instead, I saw him every day at camp. The boys and girls didn’t really interact with each other, so there was no opportunity to get to know him. But, then came my chance. This summer of 1964, Camp Hawk was having a “Sadie Hawkins” day race. I didn’t know anything about Sadie Hawkins, but it had something to do with chasing boys and catching the love of your life. All I knew was that I was going to be able to chase and catch Phil! I couldn’t wait. When the day arrived, the boys were all lined up with all the girls in a row behind. The boys took off running first, while we girls had to wait a bit. I didn’t know if any of the other girls were after Phil, but I knew I’d be running faster than ever before in my life! There was no way any other girl was going to beat me to him. The girls took off. I ran my little heart out. When I got close and knew I was about to catch him, I’m not sure what came over me. I guess I wanted him to know how athletic I was. So, this neighborhood tomboy, football-playing “girl” tackled him! I have no idea how he felt about that, but he was MINE!! 

After the race, there was a dance. So, we danced together exactly once. It was probably the most awkward slow dance of my life. I cannot recall what our conversation was about—or if we even had one. But knowing me, I’m sure I asked a lot of questions. The only bit of information that I can remember coming away with was that he was also Catholic. He and his family went to 6:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday. You know what that meant. I, too started going to 6:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday! I’m sure my parents thought I was nuts. Or probably, the truth is that Ronnie and the twins told them that I had a crush on a boy! As I've said before, there are no secrets in a large family. But, if they only knew. Phil wasn’t just a “boy”—he was THE boy!! 

I don’t remember when that crush petered out—probably when I moved on to the next one. Who that was I have no idea. You only have ONE first crush! But to think that my 7th-grade boyfriend who didn’t know he was my boyfriend never even knew my passion for him, because—well—he didn’t even know he was my boyfriend!

Fast forward to 2020. Phil “friended” me on Facebook. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited, I went running to tell Butch. Even though it’s been at least 55 years since I’d seen him, I guess I made a bigger impression on him than I thought!!