Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Date Night

It finally happened.  I was getting dressed to go out (okay, just to run errands and have an early dinner with my husband and granddaughter, but "going out" sounds better).  I had spackled my face as best I could, fluffed up my increasingly thin hair in an effort to hide my scalp, and was attempting to find a flattering outfit (does one even exist?)  I finally decided on the blackest, most slimming get-up I could find (yeah, the same one I wear every Saturday for "date night"), took a deep breath, then looked in the mirror.  It just seemed so drab.  Well, maybe a necklace would give it a little style, so I tried that.  And then for the first time in my life, my waistline wasn't the biggest problem.  I had to pick a new battle.  I could no longer bear to draw any attention to my droopy jowls, so the necklace was out.  It seemed like the lesser of two evils to slap a belt across my pot-bellied love handles and call it a day.

All Dressed Up for a Night on the Town:

Little Mermaid Birthday Cake

A question on the Cricut messageboard reminded me of the cake I made for my granddaughter's seventh birthday.  As with everything in my life, I got lazy and took waaaaay too many shortcuts.  But luckily, seven-year-olds aren't that discerning. 

I cut the shapes from the Cricut Disney's Princesses Dreams Come True cartridge, laminated them with my Xyron to keep them from being a sticky, soggy mess, and attached them to bamboo skewers that I stuck into the cake.  I tried to color the frosting to look like water, then swirled it onto the cake to look like waves (in my mind, at least). 

I also used both the Hello Kitty Greetings and Font cartridges for the Happy Birthday sign.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How Children Inspire Us

I love children.  Especially my own. I find that toddlers always bring a smile to my face.  So why do I get so stressed out when I spend time with my own offspring?

For starters, everyone in my house is way beyond the toddler phase.   I have seven- and eleven-year-old girls living with me.  At around age seven, cute begins to be replaced with attitude.  By the time they reach adolescence, it's all over.  The attitude seems to get worse and more unpredictable as time goes on.

Anyone who questions that God is real should take a good look at babies.  Would humanity have expanded to nearly 7 billion people if new parents came home with the equivalent of a pre-teen?  We would have died out within the first few generations.

Unlike our cars when they no longer serve our needs, we can't trade our children in for newer models when we no longer enjoy the ride.  This is why many, many years ago, some genius invented boarding school.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

'Round and 'round we go

Today I ran across some info about requesting a product freebie from an online site.  I love free stuff!  So I head to the website, enter my info to register, and click to submit.  Crap, I get the big red exclamation point telling me I didn't complete all the info.  And highlighted was the cell number section, which clearly stated "cell number not required for registration".  HUH???  So I start by entering all zeros.  Again with the error--"number has already been used" (no doubt by another disgruntled registrant who came before me).  So I try another random set of numbers.  Again, already used.  A few more tries, then I get pissed and click on the "contact us" link.  Well, guess what they want?  Yep, a full registration.

There is no way a single-use sample of L'Oreal shampoo is worth all that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turn Back Time (Way Back)

Okay, as I'm fumbling around through the mountain of "miracle" creams and potions in my bathroom, I'm struck by how much damage I must have done to myself over the years.  If I hadn't spent the equivalent of a college fund on all these products, just how old would I look?  Each claims to either "reduce lines and wrinkles by 78%", "noticibly lift the sagging facial contours", or "take 10 years off your face".  I'm 51 and look every day of it.  By my account, with all the products I've actually used just in the past year, I should look no older than my eleven-year-old granddaughter.

I want a refund.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thanks to those who visit me here in my small part of the world!

I just realized that my first post was one month ago today!  Being a small fish in a really big pond, it means a lot to me that you have taken the time to stop by.  I love reading your comments and it's nice to have a few followers, too. Hope you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wedding Scrapbook using Cricut & Bind-it-All

This was started as a crafting blog, so I guess it's time to start crafting! 

My daughter insisted we not spend money for her birthday because we had paid for her wedding just three months earlier.  Well, that was easy because we had no money left.  (Oh, I'm kidding! It wasn't that bad.)  I did find something practical to buy, but I wanted something special to give her. Then it hit me--I've got tons of scrapbooking supplies just begging to be used, and I had a digital file with all the wedding photos, so guess what I made?

I only had a couple of days to work on it in between visits from my daughter and her new husband, who were in town for Thanksgiving.  So I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.

I wanted to play with my new Bind-it-All, so I decided to make my own book instead of using a premade scrapbook.  And since I was trying to beat the clock, I chose my DCWV Once Upon a Time 8x8 paper stack (it gave me an instant theme, the paper was already embellished, and the smaller pages would be easier to fill--what more could a lazy crafter want?)

To start, I cut chipboard slightly larger than the pages to make a cover, then used some patterned paper cut slightly larger than the chipboard to cover the front and back, wrapping to the inside.  I glued a photo to the front, then wrapped an acetate sheet over each cover, again wrapping to the inside.  I cut a coordinating paper slightly smaller than the covers and glued it to the insides to finish it off.

I wanted to protect the scrapbook pages and give them more stability, but I didn't have 8x8 page protectors.  So I used 8 1/2 x 11 protectors, cut the top to 8 inches (excluding the bottom seam), then cut one side slightly larger than 8 inches (to allow for the binding).  This would make it possible to slide the finished pages in and out if needed.
To complete the book I punched holes in the covers and the cut sides of the page protectors using the Bind-it-All, put the protectors between the covers, and bound the book with O-wires.  I used my Cricut and several cartridges to further embellish the pages with flourishes and phrases. The finished pages were inserted into the protectors, I tied a small ribbon at the top of the binding, and then agonized over all the changes I wished I could make.  But at least I had a gift to give my sweet daughter on her 26th birthday!

And here are the finished pages: (Some of the colors are off- I have no idea what happened!)

Maybe it was the content more than the actual scrapbook, but I truly enjoyed the finished product.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

27 Years Already???

Today, my husband and I celebrate 27 years of wedded bliss.  Okay, they weren't all blissful.  Maybe there were 27 blissful days in there somewhere.  But we have kids.  You do the math.

Going into the 28th year, the lovey-dovey crap has been replaced with contentment (most of the time), and a great deal of security and comfort.  But the love is still there.  Even more than when we were young and giddy.  (I made that up.  We were never giddy.) 

As I say to my husband when I'm angry (okay, more accurately I scream it with veins bulging and arms flailing), "I'm sorry if I'm difficult to live with!  But I don't feel sorry for you-- you knew what you were getting into when you married me!!!"  For some reason, he claims to love me anyway.  And I feel the same about him.

There's nothing better in life than knowing your spouse will love you no matter what.  And I've put mine through a lot of  whats.  (I hope he knows that has nothing to do with how much I love him.) 

When he proposed to me waaaay back in 1982, it scared me to death.  Sure, I thought I wanted to be married more than anything.  But now it was real.  And it seemed he was going to stay down on that one knee until I gave him an answer.  My heart was pounding so loudly I couldn't hear myself think, but I must have said yes because here we are.

It was the best decision I ever made.

(Don't laugh; it was the '80s after all.)

And Now -
With Our Family (You know, the kids that took our bliss away)

Looking at this photo, I realize our bliss is still there, it just looks a little different.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama

Today is my mother's birthday.  She passed away unexpectedly three years ago.  Her death shook me to the core, and caused me to question everything I had ever believed.  I'm not sure why her death affected me in ways no other had, but I couldn't make sense of the fact that one day she was here, then she wasn't. 

I lived six hours away from her and never got to spend enough time with her.  I promised myself I would visit more often.  She couldn't visit me; she had spent the past seven years caring full-time for my sister, who was in a persistent vegetative state.  She insisted that she care for her at home, and only allowed my other sisters to take over for short periods of time.  She never wanted to inconvenience anybody. 

That was my mother.  She was truly the kindest, most generous person I've ever known.  She always thought of others, and not just the people she loved.  She tried to make everyone feel that they mattered.

She never had an easy life.  Both of her parents had died by the time she was 12, and she spent the remainder of her childhood in an orphanage.  From the few stories she told us over the years, it wasn't a happy existence.  But I never heard a word of self-pity from her about it.

Life as an adult wasn't any easier.  My parents didn't have a happy marriage, but she stayed with my father as long as she could, thinking it was best for her six children.  But when she learned my father had terminal brain cancer shortly after she had finally divorced him, she dropped everything to take care of him.  I wasn't surprised. 

She walked almost everywhere.  She was a bundle of energy, usually walking quickly to get where she needed to go.  She never learned to drive, although she wanted to.  She gave up the idea when she started having seizures in her late thirties.  We didn't know it at the time, but they were most likely a symptom of what eventually caused her death.

As I read over this I realize it sounds sappy, but I want to pay tribute to my mother on what would have been her 72nd birthday.  I've really only scratched the surface, but it's more than I could ever have said while she was alive. She was a very private person and without ego. 

The day before her funeral, as my family and I made the trip back to my hometown, I prayed that God would give me a sign that she was in His loving arms in Heaven.  I watched.  I waited.  I prayed some more.  Just a small sign, a budding flower perhaps (it was only February, but she loved to garden--what could be more perfect?)  Nothing.  I felt devastated.  My mother was gone, and now I felt God had abandoned me, too.

I never got the sign I wanted that year.  In my backyard, I have a small bed of rhododendrons that have never bloomed, surrounded by irises I transplanted from my mother's garden twenty years ago.  Nobody has ever really taken care of them.  My husband has moved them around several times, and had actually tried to get me to discard the sad little irises a time or two.  No, I'd always say, give them another chance.  The year after my mother died, I walked outside one spring morning to find this:

I like to think that first year in Heaven, my mother was busy getting reacquainted with loved ones and learning her way around.  Only when she'd had a little time to relax was she ready to come down and tend to my little patch of heaven.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Don't Call Me Ma'am

What is it about young people? Do they really think it's cute to ask if I'm old enough to buy that wine? Seriously, nobody thinks that's funny. Well, nobody over the mental age of 12. It just gives me another reason to drink.

I guess calling me Ma'am isn't really an insult, just a reminder that I'm old. So I don't really blame someone for using that term, but it still hurts. There are worse things to be called, sure. (And I've heard them all.)

Getting old is hard enough without constant reminders from everyone I encounter. If one more old man treats me rudely because I'm not young and attractive, I'm pretty sure I'll go ballistic. There's a good chance I'll be arrested. But if there's just one woman on the jury who's been through menopause, I won't be convicted.

You might think I look like a harmless old lady. Don't let that smile fool you (it's really just a smirk anyway). My mood can turn on a dime. And you never know which personality is lurking just beneath the surface. Make your jokes and comments at your own risk.
To all you young whippersnappers, stop and think before you speak. And for the love of God, don't EVER call me "young lady".

Sunday, March 14, 2010

To have followers, must it lead somewhere?

I'll admit, there really isn't any compelling reason for anyone to follow my blog. (To the few who have, I give my heartfelt thanks!) But darnit, I feel like that sad, shy little 6-year-old exluded from the Girl Scouts. I never quite figured out what happened there. I was told there was no room for another member, and being young and innocent, I believed it without question. In hindsight, I have to wonder just how badly a sweet (yes, I really was back then) 1st grader could have pissed off the troop leaders during the previous year in the Brownie troop?

So today, as a battle-scarred old woman, should I be dismayed that I don't have hundreds of followers? Okay, I'd settle for ten. Well, maybe 25. I haven't really gone out there and asked for followers (mostly because I feel I would be selling a shoddy product.) But why does it make me feel bad? I see lots of people trying to attract blog followers, many by asking point-blank. It begs the question: Do we ever truly outgrow our need to fit in and be accepted?

And to my husband, if you're reading this--GET ON BOARD, BUDDY! Our anniversary is next week; at least give me the gift of being follower #5!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Oh, Deer!

The weather was supposed to be perfect for skiing. So we headed to Snowshoe Mountain with the grandkids for the weekend. Please understand that I find skiing to be less than relaxing. Okay, it stresses me greatly. I can't ski very well, and now I have two young lives in my hands. At least the trip there gave me five hours to psych myself up for three days of sliding straight down a mountain on slick boards at a high rate of speed. The fear shouldn't have begun until the next morning.

Well, the discomfort started even before we left our hometown. The climate control system in our vehicle had been giving us trouble for quite a while, so Mark had taken it to be checked by a mechanic. Several times. No one could find the problem. Until the day before our trip. At minimum it would cost $1200 and require several days to repair. Oh well, we had lived with it so far. No time to fix it now. No problem. Except my side of the car was pumping out extremely hot air (did I mention I'm menopausal? Not a good combination.) Mark's side was blowing the coldest air imaginable. We were leaving a relatively mild climate and heading to a snow-covered mountain. Seems we would each be uncomfortable for roughly half the trip. Fair enough.

I was sweltering; Mark was freezing. The kids were complaining (okay, that's a given.)

And then we started seeing them. Deer. Lots of them. Everywhere. As we sped down the winding, two-lane road, I had to wonder when one or more would jump out in front of us. I begged Mark to slow down and be careful. It was dusk. Suddenly out of nowhere, there they were standing in the road. I think I screamed something about watching out, slowing down, some profanities were uttered (okay, shouted at the top of my lungs), and I think Mark finally took his foot off the accelerator and at least pretended to brake. The deer never moved. And for the remaining hour of our trip they were everywhere.

Somehow we arrived safely. Only the usual drama for the next few days. I cried, cursed, whined, fell (a lot), and feared for my life. The kids skied like champs.

After three days on the slopes, I finally earned the right to go home. Mark offered to ski to the condo where the car was parked while the girls and I skied the other direction to turn in our equipment. The car was already packed, so the plan was that Mark would drive to the rental station with our snow boots, turn in his equipment, and we would head to the tubing park for some real fun before going home. The girls and I waited at the rental station. And waited. And waited. Finally, I saw Mark walk in front of the building. Okay, that's not the direction I expected him to come from, but maybe he couldn't find a parking spot. That must be why he took so long. No, bless his heart. He'd had to walk from the condo parking lot (quite a hike, I must say) with skis, ski boots, poles and four pairs of snow boots in hand. Seems the car wouldn't start.

A sick feeling washed over me. How many times had this happened already??? (Not to mention the trip to Snowshoe just two years ago when our car had broken down in the middle of Nowhere, WV, and Mark and I had ridden home in a tow truck.) We all put on our snow boots and started the journey back to the condo, hoping it was a fluke, that the car would suddenly start. Once back at the car, it didn't take long for us to realize it was only a dead battery. Just exactly the way it happened on our last vacation when the car was parked for several days. One of the kids had left the overhead light on when we reached our destination. Those light bulbs will be coming out.

After we found someone to jumpstart the car, we drove to the tubing park only to discover that the 50-degree, sunny weather was melting the snow. The resort was offering test runs so you could decide if you wanted to pay for the opportunity to slide halfway down the hill. Hindsight being 20/20, we should have done this the night before as we had originally planned. Perfect weather indeed. After about 45 minutes of sliding/walking, even the kids were bored (or maybe just exhausted). Time to head home.
So back to the deer. As we drove down the mountain, we saw them everywhere. This time I had the camera ready. Without my glasses I couldn't see what I was shooting, but somehow I actually got some photos of the deer. Such beautiful creatures, yet so dangerous. Another hour of fear and stress, then it was back to life as normal. Hot temps, cold air, whining kids. Life is good.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Out of the Shadows (sort-of and briefly)

After a year on the Cricut messageboard, I finally decided it was time to post a project. I chose my magnetic princess doll set (see earlier post) because, frankly, it was the most convenient at the time and I was feeling lazy. I was totally shocked to find it had been mentioned in the Cricut newsletter, Cricut Chirp. (Yes, you will need to scroll waaaaay down near the bottom--it wasn't that special!)

Is this my fifteen minutes of fame (on a really, really small scale)??? Hey, I'm not complaining! At least I no longer feel like Bruce Willis' character in The Sixth Sense.