Friday, December 9, 2016

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 - See New York From The Top Of The Empire State Building

I've been to New York a few times over the past 15 years and definitely knew I wanted to visit it again when I created my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list, so I added it with the caveat that I see it from the top of the Empire State Building (something I had not done before!). This past summer I had the chance to check this item off my list! [I'm just now getting around to processing the photos!]

My sweet teenage friend Summer graduated from high school in May, and my friend Kim (Summer's mom) and I took her to New York to celebrate. As I was planning the trip, we each picked the number one thing we wanted to see or do during our four days there. Summer, whose grandmother is Korean, wanted to visit, shop and dine in Koreatown - which we did twice. Kim wanted to see a Broadway show - we saw She Loves Me at the Studio 54 theater and the Rockettes' New York Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. I, of course, wanted to visit the top of the Empire State Building. (We also toured the New York Public Library and MOMA, and I ventured out to Grand Central Station and Madame Tussand's while they were sleeping in one morning.)

I had read that it was best to arrive at the Empire State Building early in the day to avoid long lines, so we arrived before 8:30am and were rewarded by not having to wait at all to purchase our tickets and board the elevator for the 86th floor. The views were fabulous! Here's the view looking toward Central Park.

This view looking toward New York Harbor shows the tip of Manhattan island.

And zooming in on the harbor reveals the Statue of Liberty.

It was a beautiful morning to spend on the outdoor observation deck.

We splurged on our tickets so that we could also visit the 102nd floor in-door observatory accessed by a ride in a manually operated Otis elevator. It was amazing!

So excited to have another item checked off my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list!

Have you seen New York from the top of the Empire State Building? I highly recommend it!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Child of the River - book review

Irma Joubert writes in her native language, Afrikaans. Luckily, her new book, Child of the River, has been translated into English. This is a great historical novel, which I received free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.


This story follows Persomi, the poor white daughter of illiterate sharecroppers, from age 11 through mid-life. Persomi's life is changed when she's given the opportunity to continue school in the village, which she'd never been to before. She learns early in the book that the man she grew up with as a (drunken) father is not her biological father, and it's much later in the book, after a few twists and turns, that she learns which of the rich white men in the village is her father. Along the way we see how her upbringing and her belief that she is not a "real" person influence her decisions and actions.

The many parts of this novel (coming-of-age, romance, history of race relations in South Africa) work together in an easy-to-read page-turner that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hello December!

Wow, November certainly flew by, didn't it? We had a fabulous month, especially since Robbie was off work for two weeks!

But first, there was the Presidential Election here in the states. This was one of the most grueling campaigns I've ever witnessed! Honestly, I wasn't happy with either candidate, however I got out and voted early to avoid the lines on election Tuesday.

We stayed up all night watching the election results roll in. I have to admit that it was somewhat humorous watching most of the liberal media trying to hold it together when they realized the election results were not what they were expecting. I had plenty of time to color this page of a woman putting her red ticket in the ballot box.

Since then, I've read so many negative posts about the election that it makes my heart sad. I've never seen our country so divided. I've also never seen a protest after an election, like the one we witnessed outside our hotel in San Antonio. Honestly, when we looked out the window to see where all the racket was coming from, my heart skipped a beat because many of the protests have turned violent. However, this protest continued down the street peacefully, if somewhat loudly.

I honestly don't know what the answer is to all the unrest that we've witnessed in our country and around the world this year, however my personal goal is to show kindness to everyone.

We celebrated Robbie's birthday with a quiet day at home. I made tres leches cake and oven friend chicken - Robbie's favorites!

We spent Thanksgiving Day at my parent's house - having pie at 10am, visiting, eating, watching the Dallas Cowboys win again, and playing games. Mama & I even colored matching pages from one of my coloring books!

We also enjoyed visits with two of our missionary friends this month. Becky surprised me by stopping by Personal Scrapbook one day that I was working the store while the owner was away on vacation. She and her husband Don are currently missionaries in Kenya, East Africa. It was so nice to visit and catch up. They are in the states until the first of the year, so we're hoping to link up with them sometime this month as it's been a couple of years since the four of us were together. We haven't seen our friend Billy in five years, so it was especially nice to spend an evening with him while he was here on a brief visit. Billy is a missionary in the Philippines. Several days later we were able to have a Skype chat with him and his new wife (who was not able to travel with him this time).

With all that going on, I was still able to accomplish a little toward my 2016 goals (MOVE, LEARN, TEACH, SCRAP, CLEAN).

MOVE - We did a lot of walking on our vacation, which counts for exercise, adventure and activity, right?

LEARN - I did not take any classes during November, however I'm currently catching up on the FIT 2016 class materials.

TEACH - After teaching numerous classes over the past couple of years, I was glad to have the month off and have decided to take a break from teaching.

SCRAP- I completed the first of the custom wedding scrapbook-for-hire projects and am happy to report that my client was thrilled with the completed album! I'll share photos of the pages in a future post, but here's a behind-the-scenes look as I was working on it.

CLEAN - We completed several projects here at home. The wall right outside the old toy room/new craft room used to be covered with Robbie's collection of autographs. I removed all those autographs, moved the game shelves that were underneath, filled all the nail holes, and repainted the wall so that we could relocate my Memories Shelf to this wall.

Robbie re-hung all the autographs in the front hallway. (The family photos we took down from this hallway will be relocated to the back hallway after the holidays.)

As you can see, we started our Christmas decorating; we're finishing up a few bits & pieces this week. I'll share more photos soon. Did you accomplish your goals for November? What are your plans for December?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Round Up - Continuing the Conversation

I laughed out loud when I read Mary-Lou's comment on my last round up post. She said...Just an update about me knowing no one that scrap books. I am now seasonally adding DD or December Daily to my conversations - I get blank stares. So maybe the rumour about Americans wanting to move to Canada if the upcoming election does not go well could benefit me with the potential of some new neighbours that DO scrapbook! I am just saying a silver lining to every cloud ... That's definitely what I call looking for the positive in any situation!

Also, in my last round up post, I mentioned that Ruth had commented that she was inspired to redesign/overhaul her craft room? Well, she did it - check out her BEFORE and AFTER posts!

When I said hello to November and mentioned our upcoming vacation, Karen said...It sounds like you need a little break, and a vacation is also in order! I'll be anxious to hear where you and Robbie are off to this time! We took an 8-day road trip here in Texas! If you missed it, you can check out my favorite photos from the trip HERE. After seeing those photos, Marsha asked...great photos...I love the little shorebird in the middle collage(maybe a sandpiper??) Uhmm . . . yes, maybe, I think so. Here are a couple of other shots - any birders out there who can give us a definite answer?

And I learned something new from Betty's comment...I truly enjoy what we call 'tiki tours' within driving distance for the day. You found some fabulous sights to share with us.What a FUN new term! I'm hoping we'll have time for quite a few tiki tours next year!

When I shared snaps of Paragraphs Bookstore, Mary-Lou spotted lots of items in the sandcastle structure. She said...I see Wizard of Oz's dead witch under the house, Cinderella's pumpkin carriage, the cat from Alice in Wonderland, Johan's whale, Privet Drive (HP); Winnie's Hunny Pot; my personal favourite, Rapunzel in the tower. And Karen asked....What books did you purchase? We bought seven books, but I actually only picked out one - A Gentleman in Moscow, which I really enjoyed and will be reviewing soon. I also read one of the ones Robbie picked out - Lois Lane Fallout, a great Young Adult book, the first in a series, that I'll also be reviewing soon.

Thanks, everyone, for continuing the conversation!

Snap 16 - Paragraphs Bookstore

On our recent Texas vacation, we discovered a wonderful bookstore on South Padre Island. Well, actually Robbie spotted it as we were looking for a place for lunch . . . after which we promptly returned for a long browse. We left this delightful shop with a great batch of snaps and seven new books!


Outside the store, there's a great sandcastle statue. Hedwig caught my attention first, but this is such a wonderful montage of characters and places. Who/what else can you spot?

Joining in today with Helena's meme - Snap - a visually linked set of between 2 and 4 images. [Gosh, I have a hard time following the "rules" - obviously I have a few extra photos today!]  The set can be based on colour or shape or subject.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 - Buy or Start a Business

Two-and-a-half years ago, I included several stretch goals on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list, one of which was to buy or start a business. I had no idea what that might look like at the time, however this past year I successfully turned my part-time hobby of teaching into a business!

I taught over 200 women in 30+ classes at five venues. I built an email list with 222 subscribers and earned income that will require me to file a Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business) and pay income taxes for this year.

It has been exciting, rewarding, FUN, and a true blessing to be able to share this creative hobby and the Word of God at the same time.

It has also been exhausting, stressful and hard at times, and I have made the difficult decision to cancel/postpone my upcoming class schedule in order to step back and evaluate where the Lord is leading me in this business/ministry. This was a difficult decision because I realize that it will affect the momentum and following I've established over this past year. I have also developed wonderful relationships with many of the ladies who have attended my classes and events. In fact, this has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this ministry/business. However, my greatest desire is to honor the Lord in all that I do. Over the next few months, I'll be taking time to listen for the Lord's direction and to replenish myself physically and spiritually.

Here's a look at the completed page in my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 mini-album.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Retro Christmas Cards & Tags (a quick tutorial)

One of my favorite techniques for creating Christmas cards (like the ones HERE) is to start with a sheet of 3x4 cut-outs, like this one from the Authentique Retro Christmas Collection.

This morning, I pulled out this great 12x12 sheet and cut it apart. I ended up choosing these seven pieces to create cards.

I thought these four would be perfect for gifts tags.

And I'm saving this last one to use as a journaling block on a scrapbook page.

I pulled seven card bases from my stash.

As you can see, just adhering these 3x4 pieces to the card bases would have made cute cards.

However, I like the look of layering, so I pulled several pieces of coordinating cardstock and patterned paper from my scrap basket.

Then it was simply a matter of cutting papers, chalking the edges, layering, and adhering

Here's a look before and after the layering together - see how those layers add extra charm and complete the cards.

For the gift tags, I cut a piece of red cardstock into tag bases, then added a few paper layers and ribbons/fibers so I can easily adhere or tie these to gifts.

Typically, I have all my Christmas cards created by this time of year. However, I only have about half the number I need right now! Luckily, I have another sheet of 3x4 cut-outs (from the Photo Play Luke 2 Collection) that I can use to create another quick batch of cards soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2016