Thursday, December 24, 2009

Judy Garland - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

This is such a beautiful performance. It is most appropriate for me this year. Sadness has been overwhelming my life and that of all my students and colleagues. Knowing that we will not ever be all together again at Christmas has made this year very bittersweet. Since that is the storyline that led to this song in the movie (Meet Me in St. Louis), it just seems right to post this now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winding down from the blizzard

So, it's been a long and interesting couple of days.

Saturday was snow, snow and more snow- it just kept falling. I did a little work on the house- getting ready for the new windows to be installed today. I played, a LOT, on the computer. Read a LOT about digital scrapbooking- my new addiction, in case you hadn't noticed. Made beef stew- the good kind that cooked for 3 1/2 hours. Late Saturday afternoon John Bolaris, the weather guy on the local station that was doing live coverage the entire day, said "the worst of the storm is about to start". WHAT???? All the snow we already had and the worse was just starting???? So, I took this picture:

We woke up Sunday to the final results: 23 inches plus drifting. I only ventured as far as the front door and this is the view from there:

Now it is Monday afternoon and here is what things looks like now:

We had a goo
d quiet time for the 3 days. It was partly restful and playtime- lots of exploration about digi-scrapping for me, lots of watching football and basketball for DH and DS. There was also lots of work around the house- getting ready for those windows, remember? Might as well tell you now- we do NOT have new windows. The window guys *might* have been able to do the work- unlikely but possible- but there was no place they could park their truck anywhere near the house. So, now the windows get put in NEXT week. Oh, well, there is always a downside, even to a blizzard!

Back to school tomorrow and Wednesday, then Thursday to get ready and VIOLA! Christmas is here! Will I be ready? Probably not. Will it be a good Christmas anyway? For sure!

Then it's Saturday and we are OFF TO FLORIDA!!! After all the shoveling yesterday and today, DH is now completely on board with the idea that Florida is the place we want to live- and SOON!

Hope everyone has a good week!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Time for a Blog Award

It is snowing like CRAZY out there!

I thought, last night, that maybe I could get a little shopping in if I got up at 8 and went right out. Well, we got up at 8, looked out the window, and said "forget that!". At this time yesterday morning, they changed the forecast from 1"-3" to 3"-5"; every couple hours it went up; the latest update, around 6:30 this morning changed the 10"-18" to 12"-20". So I am sitting here in my PJs, getting around to doing some blog reading that I have not had time for in weeks.

And that brings me to this award. BTW- you are welcome to "borrow" or "steal" this award; it was my very first attempt to "create" in Photoshop and while it is primitive, I know, I am VERY proud of it. So proud, in fact, that when I got a pop-up to order the upgrade to PSE8, I jumped on it. Until now, PSE4 was my tool, and it didn't get a lot of use- it opens my pictures for me, and sometimes I would crop or do super basic editting, but that's about it.

I am currently using Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus 3.0 and Polaroid's My Memories Suite V2 for digital scrapbooking- my newest crafty addiction. I am LOVING digital scrapbooking!!! and I am really enjoying both programs a LOT. I have enough paper supplies for MANY more albums and I will make them as time goes by, but I am pretty committed now to no more paper scrapping buying- switching over to digital fits soooo well into our gradual "downsizing" plans and isn't it wonderful that I LOVE something that will help with that?

Anyway.... yeah, I'm babbling, but what the hey- it's a blizzard and I am having fun just looking out the window!

Each summer I choose some project that I will "concentrate" on during my time at the Jersey shore. 2008 was cardmaking and learning to use my Silhouette. 2009 was stitching. Not so much stuff gets done because there are the distractions of beach and books, but I always make at least noticable progress. I have already decided that 2010 will be the "photoshop" summer.

Spending time at The Digital Scrapbook Place and Two Peas in a Bucket has opened my eyes to what these ladies (mostly) are doing with various forms of Photoshop. The work they produce is AMAZING!!!! So, my plan is to get comfortable with digi-scrapping with the SBC and MMS programs and then see what I can learn about scrapping with PSE next summer when I have real time to concentrate.

WOW- have I veered off topic here!!! Back to the award!

I want to give this award, for the first time, to a blogger who has a really, REALLY fun blog to visit. Do you ever read blogs but don't really look at the sidebar? Well, on top of an inspiring post yesterday about what she accomplished with Photoshop, I took the time this morning to really check out her sidebar- and this lady and I have SO much in common! Besides our mutual love of stitching and Jane Austen and reading in general, this lady has the exceptional good taste to include Lord of the Rings and Stargate SG-1 on her sidebar- YIPPEE!!

So, please, go check out YoYo's blog! You'll be glad you did!

"Historic" is a little bit of a scary word when they are talking about snow!

See all that purply-pink area?

That's all gonna be under snow- about a foot of it if they've got the forecast right.

And how do I feel about that?

Well, the stuff around the house to get ready for the new windows isn't done- but if we get a foot of snow, what is the likelihood that the window guys will show up anyway?

Christmas is totally NOT ready- still need to get some gifts and all kinds of other stuff to do as well.

But.... I love GOOD snowstorms. A good snowstorm is one that just KEEPS you home. Old movies on TV, lots of hot chocolate, good books. I never get anything much "productive" done with a snowstorm- there's just too much feeling like it's time to just hunker down and relax.

So, if this is a GOOD snowstorm, then I guess I won't get much done this weekend- and maybe that's exactly what I need.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

David Bowie and Bing Crosby - Little Drummer Boy (Ultra High Quality)

This is a wonderful piece of music and this new remastered video is so much better to look at, I couldn't resist posting it.

The story of this performance can be found HERE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No, this has not suddenly become a blog all about digital scrapbooking- it just seems that way, lol!

This is a pre-designed page from Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus. I've been playing with the pre-designed pages and having a lot of fun. I did another page last night and even discovered that the pre-done pages are all still completely changable- wow! I might just go back and add an embellishment or two to this page to see how it looks.

This picture is of my SIL's mother. She is a beautiful woman and I really like the feeling this picture of her gives- a quiet serenity.

I really am beginning to see why so many digi-scrappers say that their hobby is addictive. It is similar to paper scrapping, but you add and subtract elements with the click of the mouse rather than paper and glue, and changing something if you don't like it is SOOO easy. The fact that I can do it all just sitting here, without digging any supplies out (or having to put anything away after!) is very appealing.

Otherwise, life continues dismal. I am unready for Christmas and unable to muster any enthusiasm for getting ready. School is grim. Stress and aggravation continue to cause my fibromyalgia to flare, and the migraines are now chronic, almost daily. Hopefully, I can get into some Christmas spirit soon. Until then, I'll just keep slogging along.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Greatest Christmas Light Display of All Time

My son filmed this- who'd think you'd find a show to rival Wanamaker's at a medical lab in the middle of Kansas?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quick post, quick page

Got through another dreadful week. Along with the ongoing awfulness, there was a really unpleasant dentist visit.

I did get this page done, very quickly. I used a Creative Memories pre-designed page for the first time. The colors and design just seemed made for these pictures.

Tonight I am off to a Close To My Heart crafting evening- going to make a holiday banner.

The rest of the weekend is holiday house cleaning and grading, marking, recording, etc- progress reports next week. Some fun, huh?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor Day

For those of us under a certain age, a defining moment of our lives was September 11,2001.

For my parents' generation, THE defining moment of their lives was December 7, 1941.

I visited Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial in July of 2004. It was an experience that I will never forget. I had read years ago that one of the most touching and emotional things about visiting the Arizona was seeing the oil on the surface of the water, still leaking after many years. When I visited there was still an oil slick coming from the depths of the harbor, from the oil tanks of the Arizona, and it continues even today.

It is especially dramatic to visit the Arizona at low tide, as I did, and as it was when this picture was taken. One of the spouts of the Arizona is above the water and you can see, just as in this picture, the outline of the ship that lies below you. The realization that more than 1000 men are buried below you is shattering.

I do not espouse remembering Pearl Harbor with bitterness or rancor, but I do feel that remembering the events of December 7, 1941, and honoring those whose lives were forever changed in its aftermath is important.

Thank you to my parents and all members of what Tom Brokaw has named "The Greatest Generation".

[AC] Advent Conspiracy 2009 Promo Video

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spent an easy Saturday

I've finally found a little time to "play" on the computer.

This is my latest page for my family heritage digital album. It was done with Polaroid's My Memories Suite. I am doing all the heritage pages with MMS- it has one huge benefit over the Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus for this specific project- it will layout in 8 1/2" x 11" in portrait style. (The CM SBC+ will only allow for landscape in this size.) Since I am doing this album with the intention of sharing it with my large family, I want my cousins to be able to print it out at home if they'd rather instead of having it made up as a photobook, and the portrait is much better than landscape for that option.

I have to check, but I believe this picture was taken around 1911. My next page will be another picture of him, taken around 1940- the contrast will be interesting.

The last several weeks have been devastating in terms of physical, intellectual and emotional exhaustion. Far too much work, far too many disappointments, and way too much drama. Christmas is looming and I have nothing done to get ready. I am weeks behind my normal pattern- and my normal pattern is not exactly being ready ahead of time, lol!

It's time to concentrate on home and family. I have a lot of schoolwork to do and catch up on, and I'll get that all done, and I must continue to be sensitive to the ongoing trauma that the kids are experiencing. But, starting now, I have to focus my non-school hours on myself and my family and Christmas, and I am determined to do that.

So, tomorrow is a FlyLady day around the house, with some Christmas organizing thrown in. Tonight, it's going to be spending time with DH, and maybe just a little Christmas planning. Mostly, it will be resting- I NEED it!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Musings

Well, here it is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The first Sunday of Advent. The beginning of the Christmas season. And, all that.

It's going to be a tough Advent around here. There's so much going on. My nephew is seriously ill. My son needs spinal surgery. School is still a constant source of depression- although that is not limited to Advent but will continue indefinitely. Overwork, exhaustion and the multiple stressors are taking my Fibromyalgia to heights not reached in more than 10 years. Life is not particularly "good" right now.

The good news is that I take Advent seriously. I don't like the fact that Advent has disappeared and Christmas runs from Thanksgiving (or before!) until December 26th. I totally do NOT like that people actually take Christmas stuff down on December 26th!!!! after spending what should be Advent celebrating Christmas.

I tried to cancel Thanksgiving here but the rest of the family overruled me. I was just totally not in the mood for being grateful or feeling blessed. Fortunately, Advent is here.

Theologically, they tell us that Easter is the most important Holy Day in the Christian calendar- the fulfillment of redemption through the Resurrection. For me, however, Christmas is the real miracle- that He came at all!

This is why I love the Advent season- a time to prepare for something REALLY special. We celebrate His birth as we would a great event in our lives- with lots of effort ahead of time and lots of partying when it happens.

My goals for this Advent season are to get myself into a proper frame of mind to really celebrate when Christmas comes. I need to recognize all the troubles in my life as things that I can deal with through hard work and prayer. I need to get beyond my own sadness, anger, grief, frustration and pain, and see the larger Miracle that is Christmas. I hope, with His help, to succeed.

Too much caffeine today.....

..... is why I am still awake at this ridiculous hour!

But I am getting some things done- my pictures from today are all edited and uploaded to Shutterfly. Today was the annual "Ladies' Lunch" for the women in my family, and, as usual, we were loud and had a lot of fun!

Here are a couple pictures:

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Here's another page done with Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus.

This is another page of happy memories from earlier days with the kids at school. This is one page from what will be a project/album from a class trip to Dorney Park for "Physics Day". The kids learn a LOT about how Physics is used to design and run amusement park rides, and have a GREAT time in the process.

Now it is time to go put the turkey in to cook. We use the Showtime Rotisserie Grill for turkey now- would not cook it any other way. Have I mentioned before that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Showtime Rotisserie Grill??? It makes the MOST amazing turkey and in about half the cooking time it would take in the oven. Tastes FABULOUS, WAY easier than oven cooking, leaves the oven open for the pies and the rolls and such, and just makes any holiday turkey dinner wonderful!

Back later with more pages I hope! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quick Check-in

Here's another new digital scrapbook page. I am still just playing around- grab a picture and see what comes of it. For this page, done with Creative memories Storybook Creator Plus, I used a pre-designed layout that was basically just a sketch. One of these days I will settle down to a "real" digital project, but for now I'm learning and having fun.

This is about the *only* fun I'm having these days. Spent after school today at the dentist- ANOTHER root canal!- I soooo hate my teeth!

I am totally NOT into Thanksgiving this year- I just feel like a hypocrite even thinking about "celebrating". I am completely out of thanks and am not feeling particularly blessed right now either. But, when I tried to "cancel" TG, the family did not take it particularly well, so I guess I will be cleaning and cooking and all that stuff. Is there a Thanksgiving equivalent for "bah, humbug" ?

Sorry to be so grouchy, but I am tired, worn out and depressed. At least I have pictures, and memories, like the ones on the page above, to remember happier times.

Hmmmm.....think there's any chance I'll get into Christmas spirit?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Darn Spammers!

I've added a word verification to my comments section- temporarily. I've been getting spammed a LOT lately and hope that putting this in for a short time will make them move on. Hopefully!!! I hate doing this but am getting tired of having to delete several comments a day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Digital Scrapbooking for this beginner

So, I've been spending a little time playing with my digi-scrapping. Here's a page I did the other night during my second experiment with Creative Memories' Storybook Creator Plus. This picture is from the Prom a few years ago; these two wonderful kids are getting married next year. I'm pleased with the page, but I know there is still WAY more I can do with this software.

This page uses a picture that is a real family treasure. Great Aunt Helen was a singer and actress on Broadway in the years before and after World War I and there are few pictures of her because she was rarely home. I think this picture somehow really shows that she was a confident, successful and independent woman at a time when that was unusual for women- there is just something in the way she carries herself. I also see that Great Grandmother didn't really understand, but loved her and was proud of her. Maybe I am reading a lot into an old photo, but that's what I see and I really treasure this image. One of these days I will scrap a formal portrait picture of her I have- I am guessing that it was a publicity photo and it is wonderful!

I did this page using the Digital Scrapbook Place version of My Memories Suite. I am finding this product to also be fun to use, but, like the CM software, I still need to learn more about this software as well. So far, I couldn't choose between them.

My quarterly grades are done but I am still drowning in reports, recommendations and school work. I don't have much time, or energy, to "play". One of the things I have already learned, quickly, about digi-scrapping is that, for me, it is no faster to make a page digitally than with paper and supplies. What makes a HUGE difference is that I can sit down at the computer, open the program, and make a page! I don't need to dig out tools and supplies, changing my paper choice requires only a click of the mouse, it doesn't matter if I cannot remember where I put the Glue Glider, and when I am done, I AM DONE!!! NO cleanup! Nothing to put away. I still have years worth of paper supplies to get through, and I will, lol, but I can easily see that as we downsize and especially if we move to a smaller house one of these days, digi-scrapping will be my preferred method in the future.

PS- one more thing I like. I bought a bunch of new "paper" last night. Did it with a few mouse clicks, didn't have to go to a store and carry a heavy bag home, and now those papers will never run out. "Ain't technology grand?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Operation Write Home Veteran's Day Blog Hop is here!

The legal Veteran's Day holiday was celebrated on Wednesday, but Operation Write Home is celebrating our active duty heroes all weekend with a Blog Hop! The fun starts at 1PM Eastern (10AM Pacific) Saturday- so if you're here early, make sure you come back and see everything!

If you arrived here from Rebecca's blog, Bella Carta, WELCOME! I'm glad you are following the Blog Hop and hope you are inspired to send cards or make a donation to support Operation Write Home.

If you are here but not on the Blog Hop, I hope you know about Operation Write Home. You can learn a lot more at their website, but the short story is that a large group of papercrafters all over the world are creating handmade cards and sending them to deployed troops to give them so
mething nice to write home on. As of last week, more than 246,000 cards have been shipped overseas to our service men and women.

If you got here without seeing the blogs from the beginning, you can start over by going to the Operation Write Home Veteran's Day Blog Hope page. I'm #12 on the list so it won't take you long to get back here and then you can follow along to see all the great blogs supporting OWH. I was blown away by the beautiful cards and interesting blogs I discovered on our last Blog Hop and am really looking forward to spending time with all of them again this weekend.

Here is my "Any Hero" card for this weekend. I got this stamp set
recently (Vintage USA from Close To My Heart) specifically for OWH.

So, make sure you check out all the work done by the OWH cardmakers, and think about joining by either making some cards or making a contribution to offset the costs of shipping the cards overseas. This is a totally volunteer organization, so any and all help is greatly appreciated.

Next stop is CARYL's blog and then you can continue on from there. Remember, there are a lot of prizes and blog candy along the way and some special prizes if you complete the entire Hop.

Thank you for visiting and may we all thank our active duty heroes and all the veterans who have served in the past. God bless them all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Operation Write Home Blog Hop

Veteran's Day

IF you know someone who has worn the uniform and served our country, please thank them today.

For anyone who wishes to find a way to support the troops currently serving, please check out Operation Write Home. This is a group of crafters who send homemade cards overseas, for our service men and women to use to have something nice to write home on.

If you are a crafter, please join the effort. If you are not a crafter, OWH always needs funds to pay for shipping the cards to the overseas units.

And, crafter or not, please make sure you stop back here on Saturday for the Operation Write Home Veteran's Day Blop Hop! You will surely be inspired!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Susan Boyle sings Wild Horses

Susan Boyle's first album comes out in a few weeks- and I am so looking forward to it. Here's a little preview. Terrific lady, GREAT story, and a magical voice!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I am SOOOO excited!! I got very little work done today- just could not focus. Getting ready was a mess- I kept forgetting things, my hair looks terrible, I couldn't even put my face on right! Oh, well- we're going to be up in a box so who will see me anyway?

Leaving now for NYC and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The kids are gonna think I'm REALLY cool now!

Sometimes my DS just has these crazy ideas. He decided that since my DH had been at what they tell me was one of Springsteen's first famous concerts (The Main Point in 1973) that we should also be at one of his last famous concerts- Madison Square Garden! Tomorrow Night!!!!

(Although my only trip to the Main Point was to see Dave Van Ronk, also in 1973, I think, I do remember enough to wonder whether the word "concert" applies to that wonderful old place- was it really big enough for a "concert"?) So, yes, I will get a few less (a LOT less?) papers graded this weekend as I will be off to NYC to see The Boss!!!!

The last time I went to a concert, I saw The Supremes in Rock Creek Park in 1969- so concerts are not my usual thing. I speak here, of course, of ROCK concerts- I've been to the Academy of Music and the Mann Center to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra plenty of times. And, I am NOT a music snob, I just never seemed to go to big venue, big name concerts.

All of which changes- tomorrow!!!!

So, what does a 57 year old with a boot-cast on one leg wear to a Springsteen concert?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Feeling the need to get back to my blog

I've spent most of my time for the last week doing research and writing reports, as well as working on tests, exams and grades. In other words, I've been drowning in work.

My blog has been sadly neglected, and that means I haven't been reading any of the blogs on my sidebar either. Once I get out from under, I am really looking forward to checking in and catching up with all my online friends and boards.

Things are still terrible at school, and working at not only teaching but consoling, supporting and advising the students is really taking a toll. Yesterday was migraine #3 in 3 weeks- I haven't had them this frequently in years. But stress and lack of sleep (I just cannot sleep- all I do is think about the kids) will do that. As expected the fibromyalgia is also out of control, so I'm feeling pretty dreadful physically, along with the emotional trauma that just goes on and on.

So, on to more cheerful topics. After saying I would not get the Creative Memories digital scrapbooking software, my weekend away ended up with me coming home with it anyway. I really like the My Memories Suite software a lot, but the CM offers me some things I also really like, so I splurged and got it and will use both. I tried out the CM Storybook Creator Plus 3.0 last week.

The page above is the result of my very first time playing with the CM software. The picture is so cute I felt it deserved a really cute, bright and cheerful page. I will definitely be spending some time, when I *have* some time, checking out the various sites for learning more about the software, but I am happy that I got it and know I will enjoy using it. I don't know if my pages will ever get any "fancier"- I'm a "clean and simple" scrapper- but I expect to have a LOT of fun playing with both the CM and the MMS.

Nothing much else to report. I'm either at work, or working at the computer, about 18-20 hours a day lately, so there's been little time for playing. Make sure you come back next Saturday- Operation Write Home is having a Blog Hop to honor Veteran's Day, and my blog will be a stop on the hop.

OH- and if you are a Close To My Heart fan, or if you want to try out their wonderful products for the first time, jump on over to my CTMH rep's blog or store- November is CTMH's Stampaganza and you get a free stamp set with every two sets you buy!!! I've been waiting for this!

The upcoming weekend is all about work, so I hope you all have a better weekend than mine!

Thank you Phillies for a GREAT SEASON!!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Time to check in

It's been another very long week.

Things continue to be difficult at school- everyone is still angry, depressed and upset, and I am sure will continue to be throughout the year.

I have had two severe migraines in the last week- certainly a result of exhaustion and stress. Had to go to bed this afternoon for hours to knock out today's headache. :(

How about some good news?

People who don't understand sometimes make fun of the idea of "online friends". Too bad for them- they are really missing out. Years ago no one thought the idea of pen-pals was odd, but taking this concept into the internet age seems alien to a lot of people. One of my favorite books and movies is "84 Charing Cross Road", the story of a 20 year correspondence that leads to a wonderful friendship between two people who never meet. See the movie if you get a chance- Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins are marvelous in it.

Anyway.... back to the topic here. The card above came from my kind and caring Internet friend Shirley. I so wish that the scan did it justice- the shimmery paint on the fish is gorgeous! You really must check out her blog- her cards are always so beautiful! She is so thoughtful- this card was waiting for me when I came home from a particularly bad day at school and really cheered me up! Thanks SOOO much, Shirley!

I have received other cards, and lots of emails and messages, from "online friends"- which has really helped make these last few painful weeks a little easier. I really appreciate my online friends!

Another good thing was my scrapbooking weekend! I spent two days with good friends, we laughed a lot, we got some work done, and I was able to focus entirely on something else for a little time. I took the pieces to begin working on the album from our cruise to Bermuda in 2007. I didn't get any actual pages done, but I did get all my pictures cropped and matted and in order. I used the Perfect Layers rulers to do all the matting- these are getting VERY hard to find and I hope someone starts selling them again- I showed about 5 people how to use them and now they all want them as well.

We visited a little scrapbooking shop near the camp and I get a terrific tee-shirt. It says "iScrap" and is purple to match my iPhone! I also found some blades for a paper trimmer that I bought years ago and really like but hadn't been using because the original blades wore out, plus a few other things. I also bought a LOT of Creative Memories supplies this weekend- several album kits, plus a couple tools- I really think CM makes great quality tools. AND.... I won a raffle and got a complete Black & White 12 x 12 Power Palette- it is GORGEOUS!!!!

The most important part of the weekend, of course, was spending time with a great bunch of ladies, particularly my Flybaby friends. We always have so much fun and they are wonderful friends.

Well, the Phillies just lost, but that's ok- they won last night and they now come home to play. Sunday will be wild with the Eagles in the afternoon and the Phillies at night- not going to get much done then! Time now to get things ready for the morning- however much I may fall off the FlyLady wagon in other ways, she certainly has helped me with making my nighttime routine a ritual I cannot go to bed without finishing. And, in spite of 5 hours sleep this afternoon, I am ready for bed.

Hope everyone has a good day tomorrow!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On to the World Series!!!!

There won't be much sleep around here tonight- the fans are celebrating, the horns are honking and the helicopters are hovering.

ETA: 1:10 AM and little if any noise abatement- it's going to be real hard to wake up by 6 AM!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life is like this....

....pretty much a roller coaster these days.

The general situation at school continues unchanged- sadness, frustration, anxiety, anger and fear. Not knowing what is going on or what is going to happen is making everyone edgy. Children need to choose new schools, staff (maintenance, cafeteria, secretarial and support) need to find new jobs and teachers won't know until June or later if we will have a job at another school in the system.

On the other hand, there are the PHILLIES!!


I'd decided quite a while ago that a Kindle was going to be my Christmas list for this year. With the overwhelming number of books we already own, and the need to downsize looming, it seemed the perfect idea. I "practiced" to see if I would like it by downloading the Kindle app and one book onto my iphone and I actually found I enjoyed reading that way. Not MORE than from a "real" book, but I was just as happy perusing the words and stories as from a real book. (Yes, you can use your iphone as a Kindle but with the battery life comparisons- iphone is only good for a couple hours when using the screen full time- not really a practical alternative for an avid reader like me.) Today my always tech-savvy DS warned me NOT to ask DH for a Kindle as I definitely wanted the new Barnes & Noble Nook instead. Just a little research convinced me that, as usual about anything like this, (he was the one who insisted I "wanted" an iphone- and he was totally right about that, once I had one!), he is right! So, now my Christmas list is a Nook!

More on the happy side, I am leaving for a scrapbooking/papercrafting weekend on Friday with a terrific bunch of friends. We always have a wonderful time together and I am SOOOOO looking forward to it.

On the stress side, however, the Phils play tonight, I am out most of tomorrow afternoon and evening taking Mom to an event she really wants to attend, and I am TOTALLY not ready. Gotta do laundry, gotta pack clothes, etc., gotta pack all my necessary tools and supplies, gotta clean out the car trunk to make room for all the stuff, gotta make a grocery store run for snacks and goodies, gotta load the car, and gotta do all this before bed tomorrow night while working tomorrow day! ACK!!!!!

Guess I should go do something, huh?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Truly Horrible Week

First, I need to show you one of the few high points of a really terrible week. This absolutely gorgeous card arrived the other day, from my wonderful, dear friend Celia.

When I posted last Saturday I was in what I thought was the end stage of my sinus infection- which I was. However, Saturday night I was suddenly in incredible pain, which lasted for 36 hours. Monday morning I woke up (after 36 hours of pain killers and ice packs) to not only excruciating pain in my face and jaw, but a mass near my back teeth that pushed my face out so far I was distorted and deformed- I looked like someone made up for a monster movie, or as an alien in a sci-fi show.

A trip to the dentist was immediately followed by a trip to the oral surgeon for emergency oral surgery- the mass had to be opened and drained and the tooth it was attacking removed. More pain and swelling, another couple days of no food, lots more meds. I finally returned to work on Wednesday, weak and exhausted, but there.

Returning to school meant returning to an angry and heartbroken faculty and staff, and traumatized and distraught students. The rest of the week was like a never-ending wake. Confusion, anger, frustration, depression, tears; these are now the ruling emotions.

How this will all end I do not know. I do know that an immense amount of psychological trauma has been caused and that not only the children but their families, the teachers, and the staffs are going through a terrible experience. Whatever the final outcome, dreadful emotional scars are being inflicted on thousands of people.

I did have one very nice experience today. While I was having lunch with a friend in a restaurant that our faculty visits on occasion, a woman approached me. She said "I heard you mention where you teach. I teach at (a local private Catholic school) and I want you to know that our faculty all feel awful about what you are going through and we are all praying for you."

I think that is what we all need most now. If you pray, please keep my students, their families, and all my colleagues in your prayers. Thank you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I rarely post here about my work so most of you know little about it.

I teach in an inner city Catholic High School. As the cost of tuition, although far lower than any private school, has continued to rise, the neighborhood surrounding school has declined and the economy has hit our parents hard. Thursday afternoon we learned that our beloved school would be closing at the end of this school year.

I have loved the kids at this school since the day I arrived there. They are wonderful. Our school has a population that the word diverse fails to cover- they are from every racial and ethnic background, many religions, many cultures, and span the socio-economic scale from poverty to well-to-do. They come to us as freshman from their own neighborhoods and learn in 4 years to see only people. They are a living, breathing embodiment of Dr. King's goal: they judge by the content of character and not color of skin.

Yesterday was a day of bitter tears. The grief was palpable in the hallways. Our children are devastated. I was overwhelmed however, not by the magnitude of their grief for themselves, but by the compassion and caring that they, the children, found and expressed for the adults.

The kids spent yesterday asking favorite teachers "where will you be next year?- I'm going wherever you are going". When we had to tell them that we do not know where, or even if, we will be teaching next year they were stunned and angry for us. Even as they dealt with the idea that they will have to choose new schools for next year and will be separating from their friends, they worried about us.

Some of our teachers have spent their adult lives at our school. Several of these are also graduates. The kids were so sensitive to the feelings of those adults most affected and most hurt that it was one of those times when pain and joy were inseparable. To see the young people seek out those adults, to watch them offer to the adults their caring at this time, was both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking. It was the final proof of the success of our school.

Something very special died on Thursday. We are now in the immediate grief stage. We will have a long time until the burial in June. During that time we will continue to bond, to do our eulogies, and remind everyone of our wonderful history and magnificent legacy. Our school family and community will create memories and memorials so that no one will ever forget the greatness of who we were and are. "We are CD!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Amazing Blog-versary Stitcher's Giveaway

This is just one of several pictures for an incredible giveaway over at Annette's Acre. Click on the picture to go to her blog and enter the draw.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekly Tatting Giveaway Reminder!

It's that time again- Make sure you check out the weekly giveaway! (Just click on the picture to get there.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Digital Scrapbooking Decision

Well, as they used to ask on TV, is this my final answer? YES!

I did literally weeks of research on digital s
crapbooking. Getting past the hype at the websites is NOT easy. I looked for online communities for each software, reviews, examples. I trolled hundreds of blogs and websites to see what others were saying about the various options available. I posted and asked questions. I tried several. I read a LOT.

I got a demo disc from my rep for Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus. GREAT program. Rave reviews everywhere. One problem: CM only allows you to install the software on one (1) computer. I switch back and forth regularly between my home desktop and my laptop. I take the laptop when I travel, when I go on scrapping and crafting weekends, and the laptop is the only computer at the shore. But, I don't use it at home. I called CM and was told I would have to buy the software twice to use it on two (2) computers- and at the price, that was not happening. End of CM research.

I looked briefly at ScrapbookMax but the reviews were not so great.

Then came the foray with Memory Mixer. Great reviews. I ordered it, with a 30 day return option. It is a good program- I found it easy to use as soon as I loaded it. I could be very happy with this as my
program, but I found too little support on the Internet. There are just not enough people out there posting about using MM. I got a lonely feeling using it.

After all that, I finally picked Polaroid's My Memories Suite. I think (hope!) I'm going to love it. It does a ton of stuff- not only pages and books, but CDs, DVDs, all kinds of interactive things that can also include music, video and narration. I found several good support groups, including one at Digital Scrapbook Place. The seemingly wider usage of MMS suits me best. Having several communities of users to interact with will make the learning easier.

I did go through the "couldn't I learn to do this on Photoshop Elements if I really tried?" phase. The answer, of course, is yes, but the "really trying" is just not something I see happening right now. I have
PSE (although the dreaded version 4) and played with it a little bit just to see what I could manage. Here's the result:

I decided to take a royalty-free image I had on my computer and make my own (for giving to others, not for me, lol) Blog Award. Starting with the image, I added a frame (which doesn't show!) and some text. This took me the better part of an hour and a LOT of frustration and led to the answer (re: PSE): yes, I could but I do NOT want to! The dedicated scrapbooking programs may not be as sophisticated as PSE, but my goals are well within the capabilities of these programs and I won't be aggravated!

So, look for some digital scrapbooking to appear here from time to time. Hopefully, soon! (And, watch for my award, appearing soon at a blog near you!)

Saturday stuff

Today is World Cardmaking Day! For all the papercrafters out there, its an excuse to "have" to play with the paper and stamps and such. It's a good time to get started on your Christmas cards. AND.... if you have time today (or anytime!), why not make some cards for Operation Write Home? OWH sends blank handmade cards to troops overseas so they have something NICE to write home on.

Not a cardmaker? Check out their website for other ways you can help this wonderful project!

I am heavily but carefully into FlyLady mode today. We are getting new windows next week and a total clean-out/re-organization of the bedroom is necessary. Lots of things need to be sorted and lots of furniture needs moving. So this is a chance to do a major rescue of the room.

However, I am also still very much in recovery mode. I continue to be under the influence of whatever virus it was that first attacked me 12 days ago so I get tired really easily. I'm long past the contagious stage but not past the "I feel like a wet dishrag" stage.

So, FlyLady's 15 minutes plan is the order of the day. I work for 15 minutes and then rest until I feel like I can do 15 minutes again. Progress is SLOW but it is definitely there.

I am SOOO looking forward to the new windows as an excuse to do some other re-decorating. New windows call for new curtains, and that calls for maybe a new carpet? It'll be NICE!

Don't forget that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Don't forget to use the link on my sidebar to Click to Give!

For the stampers, make sure you check out The Cottage Studio- Belinda Landtroops blog for Clear Artistic Stamps. They not only have a sale going on, but there's also some TERRIFIC blog candy at this POST.

How about the digi-scrappers? There's a Blog Train for free digital supplies going on this week. Some really beautiful papers and elements are available.

I'll be adding sections for supplies and blogs about Digital Scrapbooking to my sidebar soon. I'm still trying out various software programs to see which I like best. There are SOOO many sites out there dedicated to digi-scrapping and I am determined to learn this new skill and use it for my heritage pictures so I can share them with the family.

Well, time to do another 15! Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tatting Blog Candy!

LadyShuttleMaker is having a blog candy bonanza. Just click on the picture to get to the post where you can sign up for this week's drawing!

What did *I* do?

Yeah, I'm home. :(

Sunday, September 27, 2009

So, what would you do?

AND, that pretty much sums up the dilemma!

Am I vertical? Sometimes.
Can I stay vertical for the hours required at school tomorrow? HIGHLY unlikely.
Do I have Swine flu? I don't know. For the first 48 hours I was too sick to know anything and the rest of the time has been the weekend, so who is going to call a doctor these days then?
Do I match the "official" symptoms list on the PA Dept of Health website? Absolutely, exactly, perfectly, and completely!
Am I still contagious? If it *IS* swine flu, then the answer is YES!

At this point there is no point in going to the doctor. I'm recovering, albeit very slowly. To find out if this is actually Swine flu or just the cold from hell would be interesting but useless now.

I've been "UP", (in a chair rather than bed) for 6 hours now, my longest stint since Wednesday. Standing and walking are still a struggle. I'm wondering if I can safely drive, since concentration is an issue.

I guess I'll go back to bed and think about it.

Stitcher's Blog Candy!

Tammy is having a Blogoversary and she had four WONDERFUL blog candy packages being given away. This is a picture of one of them.

Just click on the picture and it will take you to the post to enter the draw. Then check out the rest of her blog for some beautiful stitching pictures.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

This is going to be wonderful- be sure to check it out!

It's that time of year again

The cold from hell. Two days of sleeping round the clock- really! Now I am so out of whack I don't know if its day or night- except it's dark out and DH and DS are sleeping so it must be night. And I'm, finally, for the first time since Wednesday afternoon, completely awake.

The good news? Well, the killer sinus headaches are finally controlled (notice I said controlled, not eliminated) by Comtrex, the ribs are only sore when I actually cough and not all the time, and, when I want to be, I can be vertical for more than 2 minutes! (Not sure how *much* longer, but I've definitely done more than 2 minutes.) Puffs with lotion are strategically stationed by the bed, the recliner- YES! I sat up and watched TV tonight for several hours!!!- and next to the computer here.

I have been WAY too out of it to stitch, tat, or do anything crafty, but I did get some reading done. Two more days of meds, fluids and rest and I should be good-to-go for school by Monday- which is fine, except I will be missing a BIG party tomorrow. :(

It happens every year: the back-to-school-get-sick-from-the-kids-germs episode. At least it's here and (Please!!!) soon to be over.

Hope everyone else is feeling better than me and having a good weekend!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Catching up on stuff

Here's my first book for the 10 Book Challenge.

I have chosen 4 more so far:
  • Mona Lisa in Camelot by Margaret Leslie Davis
  • The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
  • Inked Up by Terri Thayer
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
The rest I will add to the list on my sidebar as I choose them.

Not a great picture...sorry. My sidebar needs updating- I am working on motif #3 for the 25 motif tatting challenge. This one I'm doing with one of the Finca #12 variegated threads I got this summer at the quilt shop. I am using my new silver shuttle- and I am probably not going to use it again, except as a pendant. Etha made a comment when I posted the picture of the shuttle that the pick looked "fierce"- well, she was right. If I poke my finger while tatting, which I do frequently, I BLEED! However, I must also admit that I twice so far in this motif have had to un-tat to fix mistakes and I have NEVER found it so easy as with this shuttle- due, again, to the "fierce" pick. So, a conundrum- do I continue to use it in case of mistakes, while risking bleeding?

Operation Write Home (formerly Cards for Heroes) has their new custom stamps available! You can order them from Imagine Stamps or from StampXpress. There are several stamp layouts and designs to choose from- this is the one I ordered. Don't forget- the deadline for Christmas cards is November 1.

Finally, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time trying to decide which digital scrapbooking program to get. I had it narrowed down to three: Creative Memories' Storybook Creator Plus, Lasting Impressions' Memory Mixer and Polaroid's My Memories Suite. However, even though the CM program seems to be the easiest to use, I have to drop that from the list. CM has the program set up so you can only load it on one computer- and since I alternate equally between my desktop at home and my laptop for weekends away, the summer at the shore, etc., it would mean buying the program twice- which, as it is also the most expensive of the 3 programs is out of the question!

My goal is to create a digital album of my precious family heritage pictures. Doing this would allow me to send/give it to all my cousins and then they could keep it on a disc, print it out, whatever they chose. I want it to be a real album, pages with journaling and embellishments. I tried it in Photoshop Elements but I lack the time and patience to master the program.

So, if you have used either of these programs and have an opinion, please let me know- I need to make a decision and I can use all the help and advice I can get.

Time to get started on the laundry, grocery list etc, and then GO EAGLES!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Michelle Zindorf class today!

Project #1.

Project #2

Project #3

I've been crazy busy with the first full week of school, the dentist, hospital tests, etc. I needed the fun we had today- and we had a LOT. Michelle is SOOO talented and really funny and the class was GREAT!!!

PS- these are NOT pictures of the class models- they are scans of *MY* finished cards! Hard to believe!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Playing For Change Explained

There is a PBS Special about "Playing for Change" that is currently showing on PBS stations- check your local listings. Here in Philadelphia it is on tonight!

Little Girl throws ball back

TOO cute!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

10 Book Challenge

I found this at StitchBitch's blog- and followed her link over to Reading and Stitching- obviously a blogger after my own heart! Click on the picture to go directly to the challenge post.

The challenge is to choose and list 10 books you will read by the end of the year.

I'm posting this tonight, but will have to wait a day or two to edit it and add my list- I wanted to get this "out there" as the deadline to sign up is tomorrow.

I can tell you that Book #1 will be: Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. Amazon delivered it the other day and I'll be starting as soon as I finish As The World Churns.

Anyone else want to read along?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wonderful Day at Notre Dame

Clearly I haven't spent much time posting lately- I've been kept really busy. In addition to the sightseeing around Chicago and NW Indiana, there were family activities, like my niece's show, back-to-school night (wow- is that WEIRD from the seats now!), a cook-out at the neighbors'; things like that filled my week there.

Sunday was particularly wonderful. DB drove us to South Bend to visit the campus at Notre Dame. One of my favorite former students is now a senior there and he generously spent several hours with us, giving us a campus tour and telling us all the lore and legend.

First stop- because it is closest to the visitor's parking lot!- was the famous football stadium. Tightly closed, we didn't see much, although later in the day on the other side, we could see the famous tunnel and the center of the field, but only from outside.

For me, the Grotto, a scale duplicate of the one at Lourdes, was the most sacred moment. There is a rock from the Lourdes grotto embedded in the wall here, and to be able to pray while touching Lourdes was very moving.

There is a strong sense of the Catholicism of Notre Dame all around it, but it is a joyful and wondrous faith sense. This is clearly a place which speaks to the heart and encourages living the faith in the best sense.

Here's a picture of Steve outside the main building- with the famous golden dome. I enjoyed the day the most from seeing how he has grown both as a person and an intellectual during his time here. It was a total delight to listen to him, knowing that he had really stretched himself and become someone of great talent and skill through his studies.

My last picture is of "Touchdown Jesus", more correctly known as "Christ, the Teacher". The TJ name comes from the fact that the top of the mural (which adorns the side of the Hesburgh Library) can be seen over the top of the scoreboard from inside the stadium- and the hand position in the mural makes the nickname obvious. It's a nice mixture of religion and whimsey!

After this visit I can certainly understand the maniacal allegiance of Notre Dame graduates to this wonderful school. The campus is gorgeous, the tradition rich, and the environment powerful. I still don't get the attachment of Irish Catholics who've never set foot in South Bend, but can forgive their insanity a little, having seen what they imagine.

It will never replace my affection for my own Alma Mater, LaSalle University, and the wonderful Christian Brothers, whose charism and efforts created for me a marvelous undergraduate experience and left me with a lifetime of thought and much of my inspiration as a teacher. But Sunday might have been enough to make me take a peak, with interest, at a ND football game some Saturday. AND.... I even bought a jacket- and will WEAR it, lol!

School meetings all day today, and the students arrive tomorrow, so it's seriously back to work now for me. Time to get ready for the (YUCK!) early morning alarm clock tomorrow.