Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Memories Suite - Exciting News

For those of you who have not yet tried digital scrapbooking, one of the BEST softwares out there just got BETTER!

My Memories Suite just released Version 3 yesterday and it is even easier and faster than previous versions! I finished the page above in less than 10 minutes!

My style is usually what cardmakers call "clean and simple" but don't let that fool you- MMS can do really sophisticated pages as well. This software is so easy and intuitive that I originally started working with it without referencing the instructions! If you need instructions, there are many tutorials available at the MMS website, and on their Facebook page. There are also active forum communities at both places and when you ask a question, you get an answer, and quickly! 

MMS is anxious to spread the word about their terrific product and is giving regular users codes to offer to their friends for a discount on buying the software. If you want to try out My Memories Suite and save $10, just use code STMMMS49574 in the coupon box on the check-out page at the My Memories website. Or you can just click on the widget box in my right sidebar- but remember to copy/paste the code before you go!

I've been using this software since Version 1 and really like it. If you check it out in online reviews before you buy, you'll find that it is often rated #1 in digital scrapbooking dedicated software. If, like me, you got frustrated with Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements, this will give you similar results without the tough learning curve. 

I still paper scrapbook but am doing more and more with digital. I went on a scrapping retreat weekend last year and took nothing but my laptop. It was the most fun on Sunday while others spent hours cleaning up and packing up- I was still working and when it was time to leave all I did was unplug my computer! MMS comes with plenty of paper and embellishments to start you off, but also offers a shop where you can buy more digital supplies. Imagine buying paper than never runs out! They even offer freebies regularly to add to your collection. 

This is a terrific program and I definitely recommend that you check it out and see if maybe you would like digi-scrapping as much as I do!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What's New

It's been a long time since I've been here. August was hectic- most of it good, some of it not so. 

Our landlord at our beloved "little house" at the shore died. He was a good man and a good friend and I will miss him. We do not know yet the disposition of the house, so we don't know if we will be able to go back.

Much of August was spent in Florida- with Auntie for almost a week, then a week at Disney World. We had a wonderful time throughout. We did some preliminary house-hunting in the area north of Tampa and found a neighborhood we really like- so we are that much closer to my dream of a home in Florida!

We drove home being chased up the coast by Hurricane Irene- it was an interesting trip, lol! I attended the funeral of the father of 3 of my students, who had died suddenly, the morning the hurricane started here. Lived through the hurricane with minimal damage, thank goodness, then as soon as the weather cleared, drove to the shore to attend our landlord's funeral the day after the hurricane.

We were able to spend Labor Day weekend at the shore and it was quiet and relaxing, except for all the packing up. 

Then came THE STRIKE! We, the Catholic high school teachers in Philadelphia, are on strike. The issues are too many to go into here, but it comes down to changes in work rules that would be so punitive that we could not agree. Those changes were proposed in March and in May we had a general meeting where the teachers voted unanimously to strike if certain clauses remained among the demands of the Office of Catholic Education. Well, come the end of August and OCE continued to demand their way. The teachers' union has offered, repeatedly, to work under the old contract with a mediator during continued negotiations, but the Archdiocese refused and closed the schools.

Now we are walking picket lines and kids are at home. OCE officials go on TV and talk to the newspapers and run us down. One of the Archdiocesan negotiators, an assistant superintendent, said on TV the other day that the union members "are not educators"! Parents are calling us lazy, greedy union thugs. How can I go in front of a class of students who have been hearing and reading all this? Needless to say, I am severely depressed.

Those who have read here for any length of time know how I feel about my students and my job. However, after the pain of the closing of Cardinal Dougherty, the stress of adjusting to a new school, and now this, I am so discouraged I don't know what to do. 

For now, I think I'll just go back to bed, pull the covers over my head, and wish it would all be a bad dream.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quiet time at the shore starts

So, here's what has been, happily, keeping me away from my blog and lots of other things for the last several weeks.

DH has retired from his summer job. For the first time since 6th grade, he has the summer off. We were a little worried (some friends had a pool going with the highest over/under at 11 days before I killed him, lol) about being together 24/7 for the first time for an extended period. 

Well, it was 31 days and we LOVED it. Retirement looks soooo much better now- although it always looked good!

DH, for the first time since I've known him, really learned to relax and slow down. Not that we were totally lazy or anything, but we moved slowly, did restful things like reading a lot, went out to lunch, went to the beach and swam, took long walks in the evening (until this weather arrived- have you seen the picture floating around the Internet of the sign "Satan called- he wants his weather back!"?) and generally just enjoyed being peaceful and together!

The above picture is pretty typical of an afternoon or evening here in the last month.

Now he is off for an adventure. He flies out tonight to go west to meet up with 2 friends from high school. They are going to drive back across the country, doing whatever they feel like, seeing lots of new places, and making a stop in the midwest to meet up with still another high school friend. I hope they have a wonderful trip, but after more than a month, I will miss having him here.

For me, the time will be spent continuing to sleep a lot, stitching on a Round Robin piece, continuing to read voraciously, some visits with family on LBI, and just generally getting stronger and rested. 

A little more than 2 weeks here are left, then 2 days at home before I fly to FLorida to spend time with Auntie. DH and DS will meet me in FLorida the following week for our annual pilgrimage to Disney World. By the time we get home, there will only be a week until Labor Day and back to school.

The time until Labor Day is fortunately filled with fun and good times.

So, I might finally get around to the housekeeping I've been wanting to do here on the blog, and I might get some more posts up. 

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer- I sure am!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Time to Reorganize

So, I've been away for a while. Getting through the end of a very tough school, and personal, year and then getting ready to get to the shore, kept me both busy and distracted. 

My intentions are certainly to continue my blog- even if only for me; I find it, occasionally, a good form of diary to return to about past events.

But, I definitely need to do some housework around here. There are many links on the sidebar that are not really relevant to me anymore, and lots of new things that I would like to put there. 

So, look for a "new look" in the not-too-distant future. It will take a while- we are, again, "living on the porch" (see last summer posts if interested) and this summer DH is with me here, so while the pace is slow, it is generally quite full.

Hope you will like the changes!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hand Dyed Fibers Needlework Exhibition and 9-11 Memorial Quilts

I spent yesterday at the Hand Dyed Fibers Needlework exhibition, which for yesterday only also included a display of the 9-11 Memorial Quilts. GREAT DAY!!!!

You can see all my pictures HERE.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

OWH Bloghop Coming Soon!!!

It will soon be Memorial Day weekend. Let's all spend a little time remembering the reason for the holiday- those who gave their lives in the service of our country.

I cannot think of a better way to honor those heroes than to support their comrades currently overseas. It is a small gesture to show our gratitude to those serving and those who have served.

Operation Write Home will again be having their annual bloghop that weekend. Make a card (or several!) and plan on participating in the hop activities.

For more information, just click on the picture!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's funny.....

Not funny "haha", but funny "weird", "odd", "hard to describe".

My mother-in-law gave me my DH's high school class ring after we were married. DH smashed up his hand senior year in a football game and never was able to wear it again. It spent years in my jewelry box. I put it on the day they announced they were closing "our" school- the one he went to and where I taught so happily for 10 years. I wore it constantly until shortly before I started at my new school last fall.

I took the picture above yesterday. 

Last week I discovered a wonderful group- The American Soldier Memorial Project. They make hand-stitched memorials for the families of service men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. I immediately thought that this would make a wonderful project for me for the summer. Sure, I have more WIPs (works in progress) than I can count already, but this one would have meaning.

I joined the group, and Tuesday evening I was emailing back and forth with the Pennsylvania rep about picking a name from their long list- there are way more heroes than there are stitchers volunteering. In between emails I checked my messages- and got a kick-in-the-stomach piece of news: another CD grad had died, this time in Afghanistan. John was from the class of 2009, and still only 19 years old. 

It turned into a long evening of reading messages and posts from the stunned CD community. The question, whispered before, was again asked: "Did closing us down also curse us?" It really is beginning to feel like it might be true.

At some point Tuesday night I emailed to the ASMP rep and told her to ignore all the previous emails- I now had a soldier to stitch for who was very personal to me. 

Since Tuesday night there have been newspaper and TV reports to read and watch, messages to answer and chats to try to comfort the kids. 

Next week there will be a funeral. Until then there is the sadness and the waiting.

I went to bed Tuesday night but was unable to sleep. I don't know what made me think to do it, but about 1AM I got up, went to my jewelry box, and put on the ring. It is large and heavy- a man's ring- and I am always aware of it when I wear it. I fell asleep almost immediately.

It's "just a piece of jewelry" is what anyone would say. I cannot explain. All I know is that I am again wearing "our" CD ring and somehow it has comforted me in the last few days. 

Losing Vince, age 18, to cancer in January was terrible. Losing Mark, age 19, two weeks later, to the gas explosion at which he was a first responder, was terrible. Losing John now, age 19, as a hero who died in the service of our country, is terrible.

Losing our school was an awful experience and continues to cause pain to so many. Not having a "home" as we go through these tragedies makes the pain a little worse and the grieving even more difficult. 

But I know that this wonderful community will again come through, this time for John's family and friends, and for one another. The ring reminds me that although the building may be closed, the REAL CD is in its people and their amazing spirit. As long as any of us are alive to remember and share that spirit, CD lives. And, in our memories, so do Vince and Mark and John.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where have I been?

Been dealing with a lot of stuff: primarily, but not exclusively, with my mother's recent colon cancer diagnosis. With everything else plus that I've been away from my blogs and too busy to do much of anything else.

The good news is that she had surgery yesterday- it went well, the prognosis is good; now we just have a very long recovery period to get through.

So, just exhausted and running on adrenalin. Hope to be back here soon with the usual stuff.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Stash Depletion Blog Update

I have added three most posts to my stash depletion blog AKA: LadyDoc is Cleaning Out Her Craft Room.

Make sure you check it out if you are interested in Cross Stitch charts or magazines, Quilting books or Hardanger books.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Time to give a LOT of stuff away!

If we are ever going to move to a smaller house in a warmer climate (or even a smaller house anywhere!) I really have to get rid of a LOT of stuff from my so-called craft room. It is "so-called" because it is so stuffed there is no room to work in there.

So, I have started a new blog:LadyDoc is Cleaning Out Her Craft Room.

I will be listing all kinds of stuff there that I will happily send to a new home for the cost of postage. The first list- a group of old needlework charts- is up. As time goes on, there will be charts, kits etc as well as stamp sets and lots of other crafting supplies.

There is a link to it on my sidebar so you will be able to get there easily.

I HATE to throw away anything that someone could use, so check it out and see if something there is calling to you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011

From a link at AustenProse I found another reading challenge for this year that is right up my alley: the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011.

I am going a bit overboard on this one: I am signing up for the Severe Bookaholism level, which is aiming for 20 books this year! I read more than 20 books just in the summer each year, so it should not be too hard to meet the challenge.

If you are an avid reader, check it out!

Sense and Sensibility 200th Birthday Celebration!

Down on my sidebar you will find a section devoted to blogs that celebrate Jane Austen. There are hundreds of similar blogs and websites but these are my favorites.

One of them, AustenProse.com, is hosting a participatory celebration of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's first publication, Sense and Sensibility. 

I don't know how I missed it before- although it was posted while we were in Florida and Auntie was in the hospital, so I guess I was just distracted and not checking my blogs regularly. Fortunately, they are accepting sign-ups until March 1, so I (and you, if interested!) am not too late!

The goal for each participant is to read Sense and Sensibility related books and/or watch filmed versions of the story throughout the year.

I am signing up as a "disciple" which means my goal is to read/watch 8 selections during the year. I would LOVE to reach "afficionado" status, which is 9-12 selections, but I am not sure so I won't say I'll do it. 

I will begin by re-reading the original, wonderful Sense and Sensibility. My next stop will be the 1995 movie with Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. After that, well, there is a long list available the AustenProse to choose from.

Happy 200th birthday to Sense and Sensibility! Congratulations to Jane Austen because her books are just as popular 200 years after she wrote them, and they are now enjoyed and loved worldwide!

Volkswagen Commercial: The Force

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Favorite New Needlework Design

I am more excited about this design than any cross stitch chart I have seen in years. (I also get equally excited about some of Martina's Chatelaine Designs, like the German Christmas Market, but those designs are so much more than cross stitch so I consider them in a different category.) It is by Plum Street Samplers, and you can get to their blog post about it by clicking HERE.

I will be ordering it on Sunday from The Strawberry Sampler during their Super Bowl sale. I don't know about fabric yet, but I will definitely be doing this in Vikki Clayton's Hand Dyed Fibers silks. The conversion chart is already available on her website. This will be one very expensive project before it is done, but SOOOOO worth it!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How About a Pet Peeve Post?

***In Class***
Student: "I have a question you need to answer"
Teacher: *Walks away*
Student: "Or just walk away, that's cool too."

When I wrote the grouchy post late Thursday night, I was feeling pretty rotten. Since then I deteriorated from rotten to "I don't really want to die but right now it might be preferable to this", and am now back to "I'm alive but I do NOT want to remember the last 36 hours and it's going to take at least 36 more hours before I feel like getting up". So, here I recline with my laptop, catching up on "what I missed". 

I copied the above from Facebook. Now, before I start, do NOT get me wrong. I LOVE teaching and I LOVE my students. I go to school cheerfully most mornings and come home in a good mood most afternoons. BUT.........!!!!!!!!

I don't think too many people argue that our current students have an entitlement issue. They feel entitled. It does not matter what their background, race, socio-economic group or whatever. They feel entitled.

And the above- which represents a "like" page on Facebook, which I saw when one of my BEST former students "liked" it- is symptomatic of that sense of entitlement.

How about "excuse me, could you answer a question?" Or "can I ask something, please?" or even "I am confused, can you explain something?" No, it's "YOU NEED to do what I want and you need to do it NOW".

I have a real problem with students who think that what they want is always more important than anything else going on in class, or any other student in that class. I get interrupted while teaching, routinely, by a single student who wants to know something that only applies to her. I even get interrupted by students who make "announcements", not ask questions, while I am doing something with the entire class.

The real problem for these children is that unless the entire world changes to accommodate their entitlement issues, they are in for a much ruder shock in a few years than my current response to them, which is "if you want to talk to me about something personal, do it after class or on your own time, not during class time". I will even admit that I sometimes lose my patience with students who REPEATEDLY do this, and my answer to them is not always so polite.

Will college professors accommodate this attitude and behavior? I think not. Will professional colleagues and supervisors accept it? I certainly HOPE not. Will those adults think well of other "adults" who engage in this behavior? It seems VERY unlikely.

I spent 16 years in Catholic schools, and certainly for the first 8 at least, "you are not the center of the Universe" was implied when not actually stated. I don't think we heard it much after that, only because it was presumed we already knew it. It is NOT A BAD IDEA to instill into young minds. 

For obvious reasons, learning that others count is central to making young people sensitive to the needs of others. Creating an environment of charity and caring about the larger community is, and should be, part of a good education.

It is also important so that those young people do not suddenly get a shock when they enter the "real world" and learn that others do not necessarily care about their individual needs. 

An example is the MANY Facebook posts I have read from former students, now in college or with jobs, who have written about how the local transit company has messed up "their" day or "their" plans since the major snow storm. Things like "Bleep SEPTA, I was late for class" or "Bleep SEPTA, it took me 2 hours to get home". HELLO????? There is a foot and a half of snow out there. Those transit workers have had to get to work first in order to get you to work or school. Every one on every bus or trolley or train is trying to get somewhere. Maybe the nurse for the ICU at the hospital? The man who will fix the downed power lines for the neighborhood with no electricity? The repairman who will fix a broken heater for the house with no heat?

Yeah, kids, you really DO need to learn that you are not the center of the Universe!

Friday, January 28, 2011

So, What Have I Been Up To?

This was the forecast last night before bed. It was a *little* off- we woke to 16.5 inches!

 The view from the front door at 10 AM this morning.
 The view of the side of the house- DH and DS's cars are there somewhere- DS actually had to brush off some snow to be sure which one was his.

As you can probably guess, there was no school today. There will be no school tomorrow. Small streets like ours still remain impassable- the snow is too deep and the cars get hung up and stuck.

I had a little fun shopping this morning. Strawberry Sampler, my not-so-local needlework shop had an online Snow Sale today and I took full advantage. 
 Three nice charts from Hinzeit were among my haul- these were among them. More on this later.
 I saw this Betsy Ross piece and just feel in love with it. I will definitely be doing it on a hand dyed linen and using Vikki Clayton's silks for this special work. So what else is new?

Not much good. Last week a former student was killed in a gas line explosion. Another funeral for a teenager who never got a chance to live. Two funerals in 2 weeks, both young men who were well liked and good kids, is a little hard to take.

Had it not snowed today, I would have been visiting another former student who is back in the hospital, out of remission from leukemia. The Henzeit chart will be done for her, although in Leukemia Orange rather than the pink.
I can relate one piece of trivial good news. The above doily is an antique piece of Teneriffe Lace that I scored on ebay. I am thrilled and cannot wait for it to get here. I *will* be getting back to that piece
of Teneriffe I was working on- as soon as I finish reading that huge pile of term papers sitting on the living room floor next to my recliner.

I am still TOTALLY hating on 2011!!!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Feeling Nostalgic

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic today. There were some posts last night from some CD kids that really made me happy/sad.

On this day when we honor the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded so much of how his dream was a reality at CD. He wanted his children judged by the content of their characters rather than the color of their skin. At CD, that dream was accomplished.

I am very happy at my new school- everyone has been wonderful and welcoming. I am glad to be there every day- I go to work cheerfully and come home tired and satisfied. The kids are terrific!

Yet, I still miss the special, no, UNIQUE!, environment that was Cardinal Dougherty. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to spend my years there and will treasure the memories and people always.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why I Hate 2011

I've got a little yellow, some green and a whole lotta red- and the New Year is only a week old today.

Yellow: I was out with a few CD teachers yesterday and it was nice. I like snow as long as I don't have to drive in it and today it is snowing and I am going nowhere.

Green: all the school work I brought home over the holidays to work on during the 4 days of the car ride to Florida is still staring at me. Due to the storm on the 26th we flew to Florida and there was no way to carry all that on the plane. Exams are coming up so I also have a slew of new work that needs to be done, and there will be 130+ term papers to read in the near future. Installation of our new windows, and the finishing work on the pre-Christmas house re-construction, keeps getting delayed by weather, so we continue with the mess. DH was also really sick in Florida and after we got home and I somehow managed to escape catching it....until now.

RED: Auntie was in the hospital for most of our trip to Florida and still there when I came home. She was sick enough for it to be frightening. Made for a very difficult and unhappy trip. She's finally home but a long way from well.

RED: A former student, CD class of 2010, died Tuesday afternoon. Great kid, well-liked. Other kids are devastated; I get teary several times a day. The funeral on Monday will be heartbreaking.

RED: One of my current students has been missing since Thursday- scared out of my mind.

2010 is looking better all the time.

ETA- a RED to YELLOW!!! Student has been found safe!!! Still hating on 2011 but it just got a lot better!!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sesame Street: Keep Christmas With You

With the Feast of the Three Kings, we have reached the last of the 12 Days of Christmas. Here's a thought, beautifully expressed, that we should keep in mind until next Christmas!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Update on 2011

Can I please go back to the awfulness of 2010? It would be an improvement!