Here I Am!

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth, nor into a deep hole like you may have suspected.  This is the first time since my last post that I have actually had a moment free to write something.  The last two months have been extremely  busy.  It seems like that is always the case around the holidays.  The days are usually a whirlwind of activity just for the holidays to be over in a heartbeat.

At the end of October and into November, I held several Christmas Card Classes that were successful.  I enjoy making Christmas Cards the most, and I especially enjoy sharing them with my friends and customers.  Thanks to all of my customers, I promoted to Silver with Stampin’ Up! and was one of the top 10 sellers in my up line’s first level in November.  Yea me!  🙂

At the beginning of November, I made a trip to Denver to help my daughter begin moving  into her first apartment on her own.  It is a cute little one-room studio apartment about a 20 minute drive from the Anschutz Medical Campus/University of Colorado, Denver where she will be attending nursing school beginning this Monday, January 4th.  I am excited for her not only because she is beginning a new chapter in her life, but because she has her own place…something I always wanted for myself when I was her age.  I eventually did get my own place, but not until much later as a single mom.

The week before Thanksgiving, my husband was on his way to the grocery store for me when someone T-boned my car as he was crossing a major intersection in our city.   It happened less than a mile from our home.  I was the first major snow storm of our season, and I had promised him I would make oatmeal/raising cookies for him.  He was thrilled because I never bake.  He took my jeep because it was 4 wheel drive and did very well in the snow.  The person that hit him ran a red light when she hit him.  She  totaled my car and shoved my husband into another vehicle that was also totaled.  Fortunately for my husband, he was not hurt…just a few scratches.  It happened in front of a fire station, so the paramedics came running out  when they saw the accident.  AND, a police car was sitting at the intersection when it happened and they saw everything!   The person has since been charged with careless driving.  My husband has to go to court later in January for the trial.    So I got a new car (unplanned)  for Christmas.  Unfortunately, I am once again making car payments, so it isn’t like Santa brought a gift.

Four days after the accident, my husband and I traveled back to Struthers, Ohio to spend the  Thanksgiving holiday with my family and to attend my 40th high school reunion. We also traveled  to Lancaster, PA  to visit with Gary’s family.  We were gone for 14 days.  Traveling around the holidays was something I said I wouldn’t do again if I was hosting Christmas at home, but because of the reunion I made an exception.  It was fun to see a lot of the people who were in my graduating class.     Unfortunately many of my close friends from high school weren’t there.  Maybe next time!

After returning home from Ohio, it was a mad dash to get the place decorated and ready for Christmas.  I only had 3 weeks!  I regretted not getting started before Thanksgiving.  But all the decorating, and shopping, and wrapping, and writing of Christmas cards got done like it usually does.  I don’t know why I get so stressed out over all of it.  I know the holiday will arrive whether I do half of the stuff I do or not.  I even managed to bake four different kinds of cookies which is something I haven’t done since my kids were little.  I also prepared and froze a large pot of home-made chicken soup and chili, along with stuffed peppers and breaded chicken and vegetables for my daughter’s freezer.  The week before Christmas I made a second trip to Denver to spend the night with her and to stock her freezer for her first semester at school.  She was worried she might not have time to prepare meals for herself based on the information she got from the school, so like any mother would, I got busy.  All she has to do is defrost and warm or defrost and cook, and of course, save the plastic containers so I can refill them for second semester.  🙂

I thought it was funny when I arrived at her place.  My first reaction with her was, “Jenn, haven’t you done any unpacking?  You’ve been here a month!”  Her response was, “I’ve been waiting for you, Mom.  I don’t know where to put anything. I need help.”  I thought it was funny because had I tried telling her how to decorate or set up the furniture she wouldn’t have liked it, but she felt overwhelmed and it was Mom to the rescue.  I. LOVED. EVERY. MINUTE.!

Christmas Eve is usually the big celebration here.  I am Italian, and I try to have a traditional Christmas Eve dinner for my family.  My son arrived early on Christmas Eve, and we began cooking the various fishes at around 12:00.  We have calamari, smelts, and shrimp, (not nearly 7 fishes) and a special Christmas Eve soup made with chick peas and chestnuts.  Pasta is also on the menu.  Salad, dessert, vino…a lot of vino!  LOL!  My husband and I have been married for 15 years, and in the last 5 we have finally been able to have the type of Christmas Eve I always wanted.  It used to be me, him, my kids, and maybe some friends.  Now it is family…just family…although friends would be welcome.  We have my two children, his two, his (our) daughter-in-law, our 3 grandchildren, and…are you seated?  His ex-wife, and my ex-husband come for dinner as well.  I started shortly after my divorce to include my ex-husband in the holiday festivities because I realized then that he wanted to be with our children as much as I did.  And the kids wanted him to be included.  Gary’s ex was a different story.  I tried including her early on, but she was resistant for her reasons.  But in the last 5 years, things have changed so she comes to dinner as well.  I always joke that we are ONE-BIG-DYSFUNCTIONAL-FAMILY, just like the rest of the world.  Oh, I can’t forget to mention, that I got to meet my daughter’s new boyfriend and he was very nice.  I look forward to getting to know him better if I am given the  opportunity.  Christmas day was quieter for us.  It was just the two of us along with my son and his father.  My daughter went to her boyfriend’s Mom’s house for dinner.

We had friends over on New Year’s Eve and that brings us to today.  Since I haven’t posted many of my Christmas cards, that is exactly what I am going to do today.  I will also post a few photos of other things I have made recently.  So…here goes.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here today.  Until next time…

Happy Stamping!

Josie2

 

Xmas 15 - 6

This card was CASED from the Annual Catalog.  It features the Dove of Peace stamp set,   Item #139800 and Winter Wonderland embellishments, item #139621.

Christmas 2015-5 - Copy

I CASED this card from someone on SplitCoast Stampers.  I used the Festival of Trees stamp set, item #135059.  I also used the Christmas Greetings Thinlits Dies, item # 139659, Season of Cheer DSP # 139590, and wooden Snowflake Elements, #139638

Christmas 2015-3 - Copy

I CASED this card from a friend, Cathy.  I used Embellished Ornaments stamp set #139756 and the Delicate Ornaments Thinlits Dies #139667.

Christmas 2015-2 - Copy

The sentiment for this card is from the Wonderous Wreath stamp set # 135047, and Winter Wonderland Designer Vellum Stack #139594

Xmas 15 -2

For this last card I used Jingle All The Way stamp set, item #139907, and Sleigh Ride Edgelits Die, #139670.

If you have any questions about paper or ink colors, please email me.  I would be happy to share any information I have relating to these cards with you.

These next two photos are of two wall hangings I made for my daughter.  She said she didn’t have anything to hang on her apartment walls.  I made these the week before Christmas with some retired Stampin’ Up! products and two shadow box frames I found at a local store.

Bird & Rosette Shadow Box

 

Jenn's Photo Shadow Box

Finally, this last phot is of a wine bottle lamp I made the other day.  I saw one in November when I was home for Thanksgiving.  It was at a winery and it cost $35.00.  I fell in love with it, but my sister said I could make it for less.  She was right!  It cost me less than half of that to recreate it.  Here it is.  🙂

Wine Bottle Lamp

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Off A High Horse

Last weekend, my husband and I along with friends visited Estes Park, Colorado. Estes Park is the home of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park.  I would have to say that Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are two of my most favorite places to visit in Colorado.  The town has a population of about 6,000 and it is a popular place for visitors during the summer.  It is probably popular because of the park, which is a great place to camp and admire nature.  I have been there many times to do both.   Although we did not camp this time, we did visit Bear Lake in the park. In addition, we strolled along main street and visited many of the specialty shops Estes Park has to offer.  We also planned a little horseback riding expedition on Sunday morning.  We had an excellent dinner Saturday evening at Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse with our friends.

Sunday morning, as we were waiting for everyone in the group to arrive at the ranch where we planned on riding, I happened to mention to the woman in charge of the event that I was always a little nervous when I rode a horse. To be honest, horses frighten me.  They are bigger and stronger than I am, and what frightens me is that I might lose control of the horse.   I told her that I had ridden several times before. I mentioned I always felt a little frightened of the horses. As a matter of fact, one of the times I went horseback riding when I was younger, it was at night and my horse got a little frightened by something and took off running, or galloping and I was knocked off the horse when it ran under a tree and I was struck by a low hanging branch.  I told her I was not hurt, but I was frightened to death.  Just as an aside, in my life whenever I have enjoyed doing things, it seems something has always happened to take just a little bit of the joy out of it.  Falling off that horse took some of the joy out of riding.  I know when you fall off you are supposed to get right back on, and I did.  Nevertheless, it still scares the bejesus out of me.  As I was showering that morning I was wondering why I agreed to horseback riding this weekend in the first place.

While conversing with this woman, the wranglers start bringing the horses to the corral. I comment on one of the horses being pretty and she says, “That’s Pearl.  She has been with us about 20 years.”  I could see over Pearl.  She was light chocolate-brown in color and petite and about four hands tall. That would be 4 feet in regular language because one hand is equal to four inches. One measures a horse’s height from the ground to the top of its shoulder. I said, “That’s what I need.  A horse that’s small, and old, and slow…just like me!”  We had a good laugh together.   I am 5 feet tall and you could say…older.  J  Notice I did not say old.  Ninety is old, and I have a way to go before I am 90!

Finally, the wrangler in charge of our party starts assigning horses. He mentions we needed to remember our horse’s name because that would be the one we would be riding.  My friend Karen, about my height, gets a horse first.  The wrangler says, “Karen, you will be riding Pearl.”

“Okay,” I am thinking, “I am cool with that. There are other small horses.”

Everyone has a horse when he finally looks at my husband and me. If you know my husband, you know he has a slight physical handicap, but nothing that keeps him from being active. It does make it difficult for him do some things, but it does not stop him from trying.  My husband is about 5’10” and he gets Dillon, a big horse.  My husband and I exchange quick glances.

The head wrangler looks as me and says, “Ma’am, you will be riding Oleo.”

“Okay.” All the smaller horses assigned, I ask, “Which one is Oleo?”  .

“This is Oleo, Ma’am,” says another wrangler. “He is my horse.”  I could tell by the way he said, “He is my horse” that this man truly loved this creature.”  I almost felt guilty for having to ride him.  Who was I to come between a man and his horse?

I look at Oleo who is a beautiful golden brown color and bigger than a house! My husband says teasingly, “Oh, Josie. Oleo?  Smooth like butter.  You are going to slide off!”

“Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, sweetie.” He knew I was a little nervous because I had told him so earlier.

Oleo stood about 17.75 hands tall. That is taller than I am! I mentioned earlier that I am only 15 hands tall (60” or 5’).   I am not exaggerating when I say I COULD NOT see over Oleo!

The wrangler asks, “Can you put your left foot into the stirrup, and I will help you mount?”

Seriously? I respond, “Ahhhh, No!” I have not been able to elevate my leg so my foot would be even with my head since I taught aerobics when I was in my 30’s.  Even then, I was not able to do that without any kind of trouble.  I have never really been THAT flexible.

He says, “Let’s go over to the steps then.”

HELLO! I am assessing the situation to myself, “If I have to climb a stepladder to get onto this mount, then that is a horse of a different color!”

I climb to the top step, and I mention to the wrangler that I am a little scared and concerned. He says, “Don’t be scared, Ma’am. If you are scared, Oleo will sense it, and he will think he has reason to be scared.”

Well, that reassured me. NOT! No matter how much I tried, I now was even more anxious.  I had visions of this horse being petrified  of me and doing menacing things as I rode him. I put my left foot into the stirrup, grabbed onto the saddle with both hands, and heaved myself up whirling my right leg around back to the other side.

“You’re kidding, right? “ Oleo’s back was about as wide as the Grand Canyon. It smarted to sit with my legs spanning such a wide expanse.

“You know what? I think I am not going to do this,” I said to the wrangler.  “My feet don’t even reach the stirrups.”

“We can adjust them, Ma’am. It’s gonna be just fine. Oleo is a good horse.”

“I’m sure he is.” I know I offended him, but I insisted, “No, that’s okay…I don’t really have to do this. My gut tells me not to do this today.  It’s not as if I have never ridden before.” And I am thinking to myself, “Not no how! Not no way! This ain’t happenin’ today!”

I have learned to follow my gut. Had I learned to do so earlier in life, it would have saved me a great deal of trouble.

Getting off a high horse is just as difficult as getting on it.

Another Christmas card is posted here.  It is a simple one.  Sometimes the simpler the better as far as I am concerned. In other words, less is more.

Cut Out Festival of Trees

When I made this card, I punched the tree image out of the white card stock before I ran it through the Texture Boutique Machine.   I then stamped the tree image on another smaller piece of Whisper White card stock and lined it up with the cut out.  I then adhered it to the card base.  I used Stampin’ Dimensionals to adhere the embossed card stock  to the Garden Green base.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here today.  Thanks for stopping by.   Until next time…

Happy Stamping!

Josie2

 

 

 

 

 

My Most Embarrassing Experience

The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me took place when my son was in eighth grade. I was fortunate in that for the first six years of my teaching career my children were able to attend the school in which I taught.  I did not have to worry about before and after school care, and we had the same days off each year.  I also had the pleasure of being my children’s 8th grade Language Arts and history teacher.  My children might have another opinion as to whether or not it was a pleasure to have their mom as a teacher.    They could not get away with anything!

The incident in question happened one day in the middle of one of my son’s Language Arts classes. One of the guys decided he should “break wind”.  Gross!  Something most 8th grade boys or just boys in general think is funny.  With a disgusted look on my face, I walked over to the window and opened it.  My son immediately piped up.

”What’s the big deal?” he asked. “That’s the first thing you do at night when we get into the car to go home at the end of the day!”

The class had a great laugh at my expense. Mortified, I laughed along with them.

When my son and I got into the car to go home that night, I quickly engaged the child lock on the power windows.

“Oh my god!” my son shouted.

Ahhhhhh! Sweet revenge! “That will teach you,” I thought.

Here is my card today.  I call it Lovely As A Tree Meets Festival of Trees.  I’ve paired an oldie but goodie which can be found in the Annual Catalog with a new set from the current Holiday Catalog.

 

Lovely As A Tree Meets Festival of Trees

I will admit the lighting on this isn’t that great.  That’s because I loaned my digital camera to my son to use while student teaching to record some of his lessons.  That leaves me with my cell phone camera which does an okay job, but my other camera has a flash on it.  The things we do for our children!  If only I would have the opportunity to embarrass him in front of his class as he did me when he was in 8th grade!  You never know!  Maybe when he gets a job I will pay him a visit one day.  🙂

I did some heat embossing on this.  That seems like the thing for me to do these days.  I’ve rediscovered heat embossing.  Sorry, but the Pool Party Seam Binding is no longer available, but this color is available in the cotton ribbon.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here today.  Please let me know what you think of my creation…and my story if you like.  Thanks for visiting and until next time…

Happy Stamping!

Josie2

 

 

 

 

Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Experienced

I’ve been through many hard things in my life, and when asked to write about the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, I wasn’t able to pick just one.  There are three events that come to mind that were very difficult for me.  These events are Army basic training, the death of my father, and witnessing my son’s struggle with a life-changing illness.  For brevity’s sake, I will only write about one.

Army basic training took place around the summer of 1978 or 1979.  I don’t remember exactly.  It was the first time I had ever been away from home, and it was the first time I ever flew!  I was a poor college student at the time, and I remember seeing an advertisement in the school newspaper about how I could earn $100.00 a month tax-free.  In those days, $100.00 a month was a huge amount of money.  A broke college student could buy books for four college classes with $100.00!  It was worth checking out.  It turned out to be an advertisement for the Army ROTC program on campus.  Since I had already completed two years of schooling, I could get into the two-year program by attending basic training to make up for the two years of Military Science classes I had already missed.  And, I could do all of this without signing a contract!  As I spoke with one of the Professors of Military Science on campus (in this case, an active duty Army Major) my biggest concerns with attending basic training were, “Will I be able to blow dry my hair every morning?” and “Can I wear makeup?”  Of course, the answer to both of my questions was yes, and he DID NOT lie to me when he said so. He did; however, fail to mention that I would have to get out of bed at 3:45 a.m. every morning in order to do those two things!  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Telling my parents that I was thinking of joining the military was not an easy thing.  As mentioned in my last post, my mother was “old school”.  Born in Italy in 1931 and raised a Roman Catholic, she spent a lifetime mastering the fine art of “feeling guilty”.  She immigrated into the United States at the age of 15, and lived with her parents until she married my father when she was 23.   As I grew up, I was always told that being married and having children was the ultimate thing to experience, and if I did, I would not want for more.  Or….SHOULDN ‘T want for more.  In spite of all of her beliefs about a woman’s role in life, NOT going to college was always out of the question.  But joining the military?!  When I finally gathered enough courage to break the news to my parents, the first words out of my mother’s mouth were, “What?  What do you mean?  Only whores and lesbians join the Army!”  My mother was a piece of work.  She insisted on meeting the Army Major with whom I had spoken.  The Major agreed to a meeting.

After the meeting, my mother’s concerns were somewhat alleviated.  In the meeting, she discovered that his family and hers were somehow “paisans” (compatriots) from the “old country” and everything would be okay.  (The Major was Italian!  Thank God for small miracles.)

I flew off to Louisville, KY the following summer to endure six weeks of basic training in Ft. Knox, KY.  A place that would be sheer misery, agony, and heartbreak (famous hills in Ft. Knox with which every trainee is familiar because they are either road marched or run) for a short time of my life, but  unbeknown to me at the time, a place where both of my children would enter this world, and a place I would call home for five years of my adult life.  (A different story!)

I remember eating breakfast before leaving home that morning and not eating again until 11:00 that night.  I was given all of my combat gear that day.  Once stuffed into the standard issue olive drab duffel, I carried it on my back to the barracks I would call home for the next six-weeks. For me, this was no small feat.  A standard issue Army duffel bag weighs about 100 pounds and stands approximately 3 1/2 feet tall when filled. In my twenties, I weighed around 115 pounds and I stand 5 feet tall. So I am sure you can envision that I was bent double at the waist as I carried that bag.  And to top it all off, I had never done anything physical in my life until I arrived in boot camp. (This was a time of firsts in my life.)

I awoke the next morning to shower, wash my hair, and put on makeup before “falling in” for first formation at about 4:30 a.m.  I remember doing my first PT (physical training) and thinking I had died and gone to hell.  The humidity in Kentucky is so high that when I was finished, the make up on my face had been sweated off.

Sleep in basic training is a precious commodity. It did not take long to learn that lesson. In order to get the maximum number of minutes of sleep each night, I took to showering and dressing for PT the night before. On day two I remember waking at the sound of the bugle’s reveille, and the only body parts I could move without hurting were my eyeballs.  I rolled out of bed already dressed for the morning’s PT no makeup, no freshly washed and styled hair, not caring what I looked like. “God; help me make it through today.”

I really wanted to go home. But I didn’t.  I had made a deal with my grandfather, before leaving for this place.  He told me to do it to the end, whether I decided to stay with it or not.  He said, “Don’t quit.  If you quit, you will always wonder.” So, no matter how stinkin’ hot and humid, how bug and mosquito infested, how prickly-rashed, how sun burned, how poison ivied and poison sumaced, how athletes footed, how butt-chafed, how snake infested, how dog-tire, how home sick, how agonizingly grueling it got…I DID NOT GIVE UP!  Even though there were millions of times, I wanted to.  Grandpa was right.

In the end, my Drill Sargent said that on the first day he looked at all of us and asked himself who would be the first to go home.  He said he had me pegged as the one, and he was surprised when he realized I would make it through to the end.  You know what, Drill Sargent, I was surprised too!

Today I am sharing a Christmas card that I made using Festival of Trees and Endless Wishes.

Festival of Trees Emboss Resist - 2

 

Festival of Trees Emboss Resist - 1

I used the emboss resist technique on this one too.  Since I’ve learned what it is all about, I think I am hooked!  In order to make the snow mountain at the bottom of the card, I tore a piece of paper and lightly attached it to the white card stock upon which I was planning to stamp.  I then inked my tree stamp with Versa Mark ink and stamped, gradually allowing the stamp to overlap onto the mask I had created with the torn piece of paper.  This gave the effect of the trees getting smaller.  I then heat embossed using White embossing powder.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here today.  I am adding one last photo, but not of my card.  I found a photo of the three hills I mentioned in my writing and wanted to include it so you can see why they are called what they are called.  Thanks for stopping by today.  Until next time…

Happy stamping!

Josie2

051D4BFB-DFD3-440E-865C-F123D6B862E8-2354-000002D6E9D8E057_zps51724852[1]

Here is the website from which I obtained the photo of Misery, Agony, and Heartbreak:

“M14 Forum.” M14 Forum RSS.N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Sept. 2014. <http://m14forum.com/army/139287-figure-will-stir-some-memorie-knox-2.html&gt;