Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thanksgiving and Grief

Thanksgiving has come and gone. While it's a holiday to celebrate being thankful, it's the toughest holiday for me (Christmas a close second). Mom and I had so many traditions and memories around cooking together that I find myself every hour wanting to call her. 

This year was a bit different, in a good way. I was more reflective on memories and more appreciative of those fabulous memories. 

Losing mom is the hardest experience I've had. People warned me about the grief and how it hits you upside the head when you least expect it. That crap is no lie. 

After not being able to call mom on Thanksgiving got me thinking about all the other times I want to call Mom and can't. 
  1. When I need to know that I am doing okay in life.
  2. I need to bi*** about my really crappy day at work. She was the only one who would listen without all that judgment. Oh who are we kidding, she'd totally judge me.
  3. Sometimes I just need to vent about the gossip that I am WAY too old to still be dealing with.
  4. When I need a coffee date (virtually) with the person who was ALWAYS supposed to be there.
  5. When I've gotten a raise, or a promotion at work.
  6. I really wish I could take her shopping or a spa day or some fancy dinner... anything to pay her back for all the things she's done for me!
  7. When I just can’t seem to get in right in any of my relationships.
  8. I need her to tell me how to be the bigger person when my friends are all being petty.
  9. When life has gotten way too overwhelming and I just can’t seem to hold it together anymore.
  10. I need her encouragement when I feel like everyone is doing better than me.
  11. When everything seems to be falling apart.
  12. The times I really need a firm kick in the ass!
  13. Her words of wisdom are sometimes the only thing I need at a certain time.
  14. When Careless Whispers comes on the radio/iPod and listen to her tell the story of leaving Quartz Hill and how I cried all the way to Bakersfield playing this song over and over.
  15. When I need complete upfront and brutal honesty.
  16. I wish I could call when I need someone to put my head back on straight.
  17. When I just need the comfort of my best friend.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wineries and such

Happy November! We're well into November and the holidays are upon us. If you didn't know, the TV and the stores will tell you. So much Christmas stuff already in the stores. It annoys me that they don't let us get through Thanksgiving first. Oh well.

I'm doing turkey day again here. I do love this holiday. So much food that reminds me of Mom. Last year was hard, but doable. I have no idea how hard or "easy" this year will be. Grief works that way. Just when you think you're "safe" from it WHAM something out of the ordinary hits you and you find yourself crying in the grocery store.

As the year draws to an end, I'm finding myself reflecting again. I am not at all happy at what I'm seeing about myself this year. I spent a lot of time at work. I've worked, according to my time tracking a total of 1786 hours. Which - in a year - the available work hours is 2080. So oddly, it doesn't look like I've worked as much as I thought. Though I do still have 6 weeks to go. Regardless of the time tracking, I know I've been at work a lot. It's affected my relationships for sure. I have wondered if it's my "escape" from having to deal with a few things - that's what got me reflecting. Things that make you go hmmmm...

Health is another reflection. I stopped caring about the time we went to Scotland. My gym closed and I've just not made an effort to find another. I'm starting to feel it for sure and it's time to get my act together again. It's too bad being lazy wasn't a way to lose weight...I'd be super model thin.

In recent news, Seattle SIL and Mrs. Braspir and I went to do some wine tasting yesterday. I'm still trying to work my way though these passports I bought at Costco.  Technically I have 17 wineries left in the passport, but some of those wineries we tasted during our Wine Walks and 4 I won't go to. 2 because they only will accept the passport if you make an appointment (Two Vitners and Covington) and 2 because I've been to them so many times (St. Michelle's and Columbia). So if I cancel all those out I only have 10. That's totally doable in 6 weeks.

The problem I have with wine tasting is I buy the wine. It's not a horrible problem, I just need to drink the wine in my house quicker so I have room for this new wine. Such first world troubles.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

October Stuff

Fall is my favorite time of year. I swear this year the colors were more vibrant than ever. I suspect it had to do with several days of sunshine. It sure has been nice. We had a heck of a storm roll through last night and I'm glad I got my fall photos earlier because many of the trees are naked.

Last night the "dinner club" met at a fantastic restaurant tucked away in an office park of all things. Russell's. Its an old white barn that's been converted into this magnificent restaurant. A bit pricey, but OMG the food was so good.

I started the night with a glass of wine from Avennia winery. Their GSM blend, "Justine" is so amazing. I couldn't put my finger on why it was so good so I searched this morning on it.

2013 Avennia 'Justine' GSM Blend- Grenache dominant wine with 47% Grenache, 38% Mouvedre and 15% Syrah. Lovely aromatics of rose petals, provencale herbs, raspberry and smoked meats. Lovely mouthfeel with flavors of black cherry, tar, raspberry and raspberry ganache flavors. A feminine Rhone blend that finishes long with vanilla cherry.  Nice viscosity, and ripeness reminiscent of a hot vintage.

None of that is what I would have said. It certainly did have "tar" flavor. Wine writers remind me of the same people who create "colors" for clothing. It's not "gray" it's "Oatmeal".

At any rate, it was good. It went well with the NY Strip steak I had. This steak is the reason I wanted the group to go here. About a month ago we had a leadership dinner here for work. We had to "pre order" our meal so they could prepare and plan. I ordered the NY steak. I figured if you're cooking for 35 people the steak wasn't going to be great. I figured it'd be overdone.

It was completely the opposite. It was about 2 inches thick and cooked perfectly. The peppercorn gravy on it wasn't too peppery which made it perfect.

I started my meal last night with their spinach salad. Being on blood thinners, if I drink I should eat my dark least that what I'm told. What makes this spinach salad so darn delicious is their vinaigrette. The spinach salad has its normal suspects: spinach, almonds, dried cranberries, Parmesan cheese. But their vinaigrette is a house made Pancetta Vinaigrette. Y'all I cannot tell you how good this dressing was. I wanted to lick the plate. Naturally, I'm not on the looking for a recipe for it. They wouldn't share.

I did the NY steak again with the house-made peppercorn demi glace...mmmm... Blueberry did their pork chop and said it was delicious. Mr. Landlord did their scallops, Mrs. Landlord did their salmon and Blueberry's sister who crashed our party did their fettuccine with shrimp. Not a bad one of the bunch.

We finished our meal with dessert...of course. I was so stuffed when we were done I swore I wouldn't eat again. Which is a lie of course.

Last weekend was the annual pumpkin carving Sunday dinner. We had a large group again...we always do. I made Mom's cabbage rolls. It was nice to have some comfort food for dinner around so many comfortable people. They turned out good and I felt like she was with us all night.

I totally cheated in my carving this year. I wanted to get this gray/blue pumpkin and knew it couldn't be carved...been down that road before. Super tough and thick, so instead I bought these little pegs to be used. I couldn't cut the darn thing straight to save my soul...which made it more interesting. Yah, that's it.

Since my friend who appreciates good beer joined us I decided to pull out the Dark Island Reserve from our Scotland trip. I purchased this on the Orkney Islands at the Orkney Brewery. This beer was so good. Super dark, super chocolatey, super delicious. I must go back and get some.

And the traditional goofy shot from Sunday dinner. I didn't get photos of the actual pumpkins this year...oh well. Thank god I made all of them pick up their own pumpkins. I have a cat instead of a pumpkin.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Happy Fall everyone! I love this time of year. I especially love this time of year when it's sunny here in the Pacific NW.  And we've had a nice run of sunshine. The top has down several times in the last several days. I love it. The crisp air, the fall sunshine...all of it. The neighborhood trees are looking beautiful.

I've been having a bit of a walk down memory lane of late. Sunday dinner is tomorrow night and I wanted to make Mom's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. In looking through her little gray box of recipes I found a recipe for Pumpkin Cookies. Had to make them. Go check out the recipe on my cooking blog.

But as I was looking through all these old recipes, I started thinking I should cook my way through them. Some of them are absolutely gross (Cottage Cheese Cake - which is basically a jello mold. Blech) while others are recipes Mom or Grandma made growing up. None of them are healthy, but what's the fun in making them healthy.

Food and cooking was so much part of my relationship with mom, and dad to some degree.  I have so many fond memories of she and I cooking together or talking about a recipe we both tried. Some of her most favorite foods, I couldn't stand ( pineapple upside down cake? Blech!) While others we both loved (Tater Tot Casserole). I miss her. And as the holidays creep up on is, I'm full of thoughts of she and I cooking Thanksgiving day food.

Work is still crazy busy. My boss got let go and now I work for the boss that originally hired me. I'm happy with this (sad to see the old boss go though). I'm excited to see what comes of the team now. The amount of work hasn't slowed down. I lost my headcount when my other PM left and now we're right back where we were being super busy. I think my family and friends have given up on me being available for anything. Mom would tell me I'm working too hard and burning the candle at both ends. She'd be right. I still love my job though. I have thought about moving on, but truthfully, I still love the job.

Hawaii is just a two short months away. I cannot believe in 2 months I'll be 50. How on EARTH did that happen? We're having a planning meeting in a couple of weeks so I gotta get my research going.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

More Traveler's Notebooks

I'm so thankful I don't do drugs...or ever got into using them.  I have an addictive personality (I come by it mom had it too). This "addictive personality" causes me to jump all in to new things. Or things I think I might not remember to find again. Yes, that's right "remember" to find again. I will often over purchase certain things because I think I won't remember where I got them. Which is completely ridiculous. And, the best part, I know when I'm in an addiction.

Hi. My name is Jennifer. And I'm addicted to Traveler's Notebooks.

I think I've mentioned that I have 58 12X12 3 ring binder scrapbooks. Each scrapbook contains between 50 -90 pages. Just stop for a moment and think about that.  That's a ton...literally...of books. No one looks at them unless I drop one in their lap. I long since came to grips that these books that I put so much work into would likely get tossed when I die. The Niece may keep some, but that's a lot to keep.

So, enter Traveler's notebooks. They're small 8X4 books. You can put 6 of them in a small photo box. Easier to store. Easier to view. And just less. (I like the idea of less).

I've finished 4 of them in two weeks. One for the month of August. Which I loved. One for the story of my first 50 years. This one will go into my "Planner" book that has all my information for when I die (and no I'm not planning on going anywhere any time soon. I'm just planning.).

The second two are 1 for 2018 book clubs and 1 for 2018 Sunday dinners. So nice and compact.

Then last week I had an epiphany. Why not tear apart some of my early scrapbooks and convert them to Traveler Notebooks?

That's big. That's taking something I did in the early years of scrapbooking, tearing them apart and redoing them. But if it were more compact and more available, would we glance at them more often? Taking in those memories and reliving some of my best years?

So I did it. I tore apart the year 2000 and the year 2002 books. What I found was a conundrum.

There are people in these books whom I no longer talk to. People who, for whatever reason, kicked me to the curb.  Do I include those photos? I didn't do much journaling back then, but can remember most of the stories. Truthfully, some of the people I really don't want to include. Yet, they have made me who I am in an odd way.

This is what I decided. I'd keep all the photos. Scan them. I'd keep as much of the page as I could to reuse the items.  And as I built new pages, I'd decide which photos to keep and which to toss. But since I'll have them in digital form it's not like I'm tossing them permanently. are some examples of before and after.

This was NYE 2001. I  kept the noise maker and the tickets from that night. Neither of them really weathered well ... so I tossed them. There are people in these photos who kicked me to the curb. Kippi - who was a good friend - just stopped talking to me. No conversation. No nothing. It hurt to be sure. The second was Catharine Click. She was a former boss and, I thought, a good friend. She too kicked me to the curb. Though she changed her name and disconnected from everyone in her life.


I got rid of most the people I don't speak to any more. One person in the photo is an ex boyfriend and I feel he's part of the story and should stay in the photo. The other guy is still a friend. And while we don't see each other often, we do still keep in touch.

This next one is of Blueberry's and Mike's birthday. The two share the same day and we used to celebrate the two together. This particular year we went o The Crab Pot.


I kept he crab and the pot because I thought myself quite clever for putting those together. And it was an element I could use again. Same situation as above though, some of the people in these photos I haven't spoken with in person for a long time. I like how this one turned out and how simple it really is.

 Last on, maybe. In 2002 I ended up in the hospital with blood clots. I left room to journal but never did. It was a serious time and I was in for 5 days. Family and friends came to visit in regular intervals. (The ex mentioned above...? He never came to see me in the hospital. See why he's an ex?)

This one had a story to tell and without journaling I felt I was missing that story.  Mom and Dad dropped everything and flew up. Sister and her family came up from Oregon. And of course, Blueberry was there almost every day. She brought me food...which is why she's my best friend. She knew I wouldn't be happy with the hospital food and brought me something worthy.

I loved the little stickers I used on this layout, but they were not able to be reused.


I found this little pill container with a face on it and little pills with faces too. I thought they were so cute and I knew they'd fit into this layout.

Ok, Last one!

I had two layouts of our cats. One was of Muffin (Blueberry's cat) and Pookie. The two were spoiled rotten.

This particular layout is horrible to me. Nothing to it. Just slap some photos on the page and there you go. Which, for what it's worth, was what scrapbooking was about in the early years.


I condensed this one greatly. I tired to keep the "spoiled rotten" title at the top of the paper, but it just wouldn't work in any way. So I kept the "spoiled rotten" theme.

I also used my new typewriter on this page. I put the journaling on the right page directly by using the typewriter. Yes, typewriter. Old school.

I have several more pages to do, but I'm so thrilled with what I've done. I'm most likely going to do each annual book over again in a TN. The big trips I'll most likely keep in big books. That leaves about 20 books in 12X12.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Traveler's Notebooks and other things...

Oh Holy Hell...we're almost through August.  Life is not slowing down! Ah well...guess I can't do anything about that.

So, in late July I attended a Scrapbook retreat in which I learned about this fantastic new way to scrapbook called "Traveler's Notebooks". I had heard about them before, but poo poo'd them as just another gimmick. And they may very well be just that. But, after starting one and learning a bit about the purpose of them, I am all in. In fact, I'm neck deep in.

Traveler's Notebooks (TNs) are small 8X4 books. The main idea with them is that you can scrap your stories quickly and easily.  For me, it's a welcome change up to my normal scrapbooking. I'm finding I am documenting more and telling more stories than I would have previously.

I spent the weekend putting together my "August" TN. I don't think I'll do one very month, but it was fun to get my feet wet. I went through my entire month wrote down what I wanted to document and then went to work. This is just one of the many pages.

Speaking of Wroad Trips...The Niece and I took off last Sunday in search of the Highland Cow. I had heard of a farm on Whidbey Island that had some, so I talked The Niece into coming with me. It didn't take much arm twisting that's for sure. We hadn't been on a wroad trip since May.

We took off early in the morning and hopped on the ferry over to Whidbey Island. From there we drove around the island, taking roads we didn't know nor where they were going. We stopped at Ft. Casey for a bit and walked around the fort reading the historic signs and markers. It's pretty cool what they've done with that.

Afterwards, we lunched in Coupeville. But before we go there we semi-witnessed a dog getting hit. The Niece jumped into Vet mode immediately. She barely let me stop the car before she was out headed to the wounded puppy.  Sadly the dog didn't make it, but we did find a shelter worker who took it away. The Niece was hoping it was chipped and some family could say goodbye to their little pup.  It was weird to see my Niece drop from fun loving, joking with me to all business!

Anywho...we lunched in Coupeville and then headed the rest of the way up to the farm. Once we got there - it was closed. Booo. But alas, a friend of mine's brother raises highland cows. So he gave me their address and off we went to Sedro Woolley. 

Finally - Success! Highland Cows! I still didn't get to touch one of hug one, but it was close.

Maybe next time.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Scrapbook Retreat was a treat

This past weekend I did something I've never done. I attended a scrapbooking retreat in Lakewood Wa. This group called Scrap Gals put it on and I wasn't really sure what to expect. Turns out it was exhausting and an absolute blast!

The two women who put it on Tracie and Tiffany, are the two who started the ScrapGals several years ago. Their following is large and they are scrapbooking celebs. I was so excited to meet them both and they did not disappoint.

Bright and early, ok not so early, on Friday morning I was packed and ready to go. I laughed out loud when I realized that my scrapping bag was larger than my suitcase. And let's not forget the wine. I posted that photo on the retreat FB page and I was from then on known as "The Wine Lady". I kid you not. Soooo many people mentioned the wine to me and just called me the Wine lady.

The retreat started Friday by my picking up my scrapping pal Anandi. It was hot and the traffic to get to Lakewood was no joke. At one point we put the top up because it was just too damn hot sitting in traffic.

We hit Lakewood around 4, I think. Checked in and refreshed ourselves before going down to find the room. They had just opened it and we found our spots right up front in the classroom. I wasn't expecting there to be as many ladies here and boy was I surprised. There were 80 women. The room was packed.

Friday night was pizza night, time to set up your space and just hang out a bit. There were several free give aways throughout the weekend and the first was on Friday night. Side note, the amount of free stuff we got on this retreat was ridiculous. Totally worth the $$ to attend.

Saturday Anandi and I were up and to Starbucks to get ourselves the needed caffeine to get through the day. We had two classes and a bunch of free scrap time.

Anandi had two friends from Sacramento come up too. These two ladies were SOoo much fun. They sat right behind us and another of her friends at just next to us. All three of them had me in stitches the entire weekend.

I should mention that prior to the retreat the instructors provided us a list of photos that we should bring to use during the classes. That exercise was ridiculously complicated for me. Still I had my photos and I was ready to go. So I thought...

Our first class was from a ScrapGal named Paige. Her style and my style are not the same. The papers and embellishments we got for her class are nice, but I'm not sure I'll use them all. We'll see.

Paige and one of her designs.

After her class was lunch and then some free scrap time. I was looking forward to the free scrap time so I could get through all my Ireland photos. I staged the remaining photos and had about 25 pages to work on. I was ready to make a dent.

Later that night was our second class, Crafty Girl put on by Tracie. This was my second favorite class. It was all about scrapbooking about your hobby of scrapbooking. Hah. I found it rather ironic that we rarely, if ever, scrapbook about scrapbooking. Finally a collection of papers and what not to do just that. This class got me a bit our of my comfort zone and we had to stamp a bunch of things on a page. A list of what we love about scrapbooking. For a first time stamper I think I did OK.

After this class, I was done. I was exhausted. I did not anticipate how tired this would be. Truthfully it was a couple of reasons that I was so tired. The first is the AC wasn't working too well in the front of the class. It was toasty. I think I was sweating from the first moment I sat down until we left. On top of that, I wasn't used to sitting in the same chair for 12 straight hours. Yes I got up every now and then, but still...a lot of sitting. You'd think with all the padding on my a$$ I wouldn't have a problem. I guess not.

Sunday morning, again, off to Starbucks.

Sunday morning was the one class where the photos really threw me. It was learning how to do a Traveler Notebook (the new rage) about me. This entire class really triggered something in me. In the telling of my story.

Tiffany, the instructor, had set up the first several pages for us and walked us through how we should set them up. She's an English instructor so this class was also a lot of English training. Which was great. She told her story. Heartfelt, open, no bull type of story telling. I fell in love instantly with Travel Notebooks. I have so many plans for what I want to do with some of them. I cannot wait.

I didn't get very far on the travel notebook from Tiffany because I want to use it about my life for the first 50 years. It seems like a good time in life to check in with yourself and really look at what kind of life you've lived and what you want to live.

Lunch was delayed, significantly, so Anandi and I ran out to grab lunch. We had a bunch of scrapping time that afternoon. I was just working my way through all the pages I brought with me.  Slowly at this point. One of my new Sacramento friends who was sitting behind me was teaching me all sorts of new things about the iPhone and how to take photos of the pages with ease. Super great tips.

Then the great group photo. Tracie is a drill sergeant when it comes to getting people in line. She's also very careful about placing people. I thought it was like herding cats, but she did a great job.

All in all I had a fantastic time. I met some new fantastic friends, learned some new fantastic scrapbooky type of things. And I think I may have a new found love in travel notebooks. Damn you scrapbooking industry.

I had to wear my glasses this weekend. My eyes were tired and I was having a hard time seeing. 

Me and the Fabulous Tracie

Me and Anandi's Sacramento friends who are now my friends. 

Sacramento ScrapGirls and I - Anandi and her friends.

The Fabulous Tiffany, me and Anandi. I should mention that we also got selfie instruction from Tiffany. 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Happy 8th of July

Since I missed wishing everyone a happy 4th, I figured a happy 8th is just as patriotic. My blog. My rules.

Work has gotten a bit lighter. I was officially promoted to Director level. The title is still being decided. I'm pushing for Director of the PMO (PMO = Project Management Office). It's a better title should I ever be in search of another job. The other option is Director of Professional Service. Which could, in and of itself, help me too. Who knows? I'm just glad it finally happened.

My team has decreased from 9 to 2 (3 counting me). There's a chance I'll manage the development team, but again, we'll see. The job description is still a bit loosey goosey for me. But the raise and the promotion are done and - in a sense - in the bank. Now the fun part begins.

I didn't do anything on the 4th - I planned it that way. I just wanted a day to myself. I did a little work, but otherwise spent the day up in the scrapbook room. I'm still trying to gather all these photos for this retreat at the end of the month. Almost there. The photos I have left are all photos of me. Blech.

I did try to BBQ burgers on the 4th. The grill wouldn't light. Neither by the lighter itself or by putting a lighter under it. I had propane so that wasn't the issue. I think the poor components had finally rusted out all the way and there was nothing to turn on.

And so I made a plan. Called Got Junk to have them pick up the old on Saturday the 14th. And then today I went and bought myself a new grill. I really wish mine could be under cover a bit more to help keep the wet off it, but alas, I don't really have much to cover. I'm going to try to rearrange it so it's MOSTLY under the eaves...if I can. The grill will be assembled and delivered on Saturday too. Home Depot tried to change me $50 to shorten the delivery time window to 2 hours. I either sit here all day for nothing, or pay $50 for a 2 hour window? I think I'll sit her all day. They're already charging me for delivery WITH Stairs. Every little thing costs these days.

I got a smaller grill this time. The last two I've bought were big grills with Sunday dinners in mind. I then realized that if in a year I use the grill less than 3 times for Sunday dinner, then the bulk of the time it's just me. Why pay for a bigger grill? It's big enough to fit two big flank steaks or two big tritip roasts on it.

In other big news, my real dad Don passed away. He and I weren't close at all. I'm sure he had regrets about it. I didn't, until he died. Then I started wondering if my pride had caused me to not have him in my life. I re-examined why I kicked him out originally, and while those points are still very valid to me, was it enough to not have a relationship. I'll never know now. And I certainly won't fret over it, but it did cause me to do some internal thinking about it. Despite our lack of relationship, he still is responsible for at least 1/3 of who I am (Mom gets a third and Dad -AL-gets a third). I frequently think about how different my life would have been had mom not asked for a divorce. I shudder to think about that actually. I've had and still have a pretty good life. Ups and downs for sure, but I had pretty awesome parents.

So I'll mourn his passing. And I'll respect the man he was. No idea if I'll be going to his memorial. Waiting to hear when and what it'll be.

That's about all. You're officially caught up in my "life".

Sunday, July 01, 2018

July 1st...What?

I know it can't just be me being astounded that it's July 1st I?  I bet if I look back over my blogs I'd see I start quite a few of them with "I can't believe its XYZ date.." Life sure does zoom by the older you get.

So...back from Scotland just two weeks and I'm already dreaming of other places I want to visit. Spoke with Janet over the weekend and she just laughed when I asked her about some of the trips... mind you we already have next years great adventure planned. I love that I have someone willing and able to travel. I'm not sure I would have seen half as much as I have without her.

Towards the end of July I'll be attending a Scrapbook Retreat. My scrap pal BeagleGal talked me into it. Ok, she didn't have to talk me into it too much. Anyhow, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to attend and now that it's approaching and I'm watching what's coming, I'm so excited to attend. It's in Lakewood...which isn't Seattle, but to be fair, there's nothing to do in Lakewood, so why not scrap?

There are three classes that will happen over the weekend.  And some free crop time. I've been staging some Ireland pages to have available to crop when we do have that free crop time.

Here's the thing though, each instructor has sent a list of photos to bring with you. Each class you will make 4 page layouts (or something similar).  One of the instructors photo list is killing me. I'm realizing I don't have that many photos of me through the years.

Here's what I need to gather:

  • childhood photo of me
  • A special place to me from anytime in my life (optional: photo of me now or an extra of me @ that special place
  • A ritual or daily routine
  • A collage (4X6) of items that are integral to my daily life, or members of my family
  • Reality versus ideal of something in my life
  • Current photo of me
  • A photo of me and a mantra that speaks to my philosophy of life
So...yah. I don't really have a current photo of me. Guess I'll put that selfie class I took to work. The ritual/routine is easy...Starbucks. A special place will be a tough one. There are so many to choose from, and I'm not sure I have photos of that special place. Does the bottom of a wine bottle count as a special place?  The collage of items that are integral to my daily life I think I'm going to take photos of my remote control, my laptop, my nook and my phone. Those all seem pretty important. Oh and maybe a photo of my car keys. 

The second class is just asking for photos that match the colors of the paper collection. Not a problem for me. I'll just find some photos and put them in Black and White. 

The last class is about the "crafty girl" inside you. This one will be fun for me. It's ironic to me that I don't scrap about scrapbooking. Here's the problem...I have to find 12 photos for this class. Thankfully the instructor gave us some ideas. 
  • Evidence of my craftiness (does an empty bank account count?)
  • Where I craft
  • close ups of supplies
  • Pages I've created
  • Bags of supplies
  • Photos of a stack of done pages
  • Your planner
  • Me holding my favorite scrapbooking tool
  • Favorite craft store or aisle (I guess I'll have to go to Ben Franklin for this...bummer)
So needless to say I have some homework to do. I did do some searching today and found a few items. And I made a list of photos I need to take. I have some ideas for current photos of me, but we'll see how those turn out. 

I spent the entire day in the scrapbook room today. It feels so good to be crafty and creative. It takes my mind elsewhere. I worked on mom's celebration of life gatherings we did. I haven't been able to scrap these and suddenly today I could. 

That's about it. I've got something yummy in the slow cooker and the timer just went off. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Camera

Now a week after Scotland, I think I've thoroughly gone through every photo. Deleted the out of focus or just horrible ones, and have managed to get down from 2300 to about 1300. Still too many photos to consider scrapbooking, but I've learned I don't have to scrap them all.

This trip was a different kind of camera experience for me. I left, yes that's right, LEFT my huge Canon Rebel T3 at home. GULP!

I purchased this Lumix ZS100. During our trip to Ireland, one of the tour members had this camera. I asked him a ton of questions about it and after 14 days decided it was the camera for me. I love my Canon. It's just so heavy and so cumbersome to carry around for 14 days. I wanted something smaller.

But "smaller" often means a decrease in quality. I won't go for a lower quality. I don't want to spend a lot of time post processing photos. But getting a good, sharply contrast photo straight out of the camera is tough to get.

Enter the Lumix ZS100. This little camera produced the best photos. I found myself not touching them after shooting. A couple had to be cropped and people in the way had to be taken out, but otherwise, nada.

I was quite worried about taking such a significant trip without my tried and true camera. But at the last minute I decided that there would be 2 other cameras there and all would be fine. I had been testing the "little" camera and it would be fine.

So off I went and left Canon behind.

On the plane I remember momentarily freaking out asking myself, "What have I done?" You see pictures are me. They are what make me happy. They are my memories. They are how I express my creative side. I didn't want to risk all that ... and as usual, it all worked out.

I spent way more time fiddling with this camera, changing settings, then I ever did with the Canon. It's super simple to use and full of filters that help make photos more interesting, at least to me. I found my favorites and on occasion would swap things up just to see how they turned out.

These are my two favorite photos. And these are Straight Out of the Camera. NO touchup.

Both of these will be printed and put replace some of my wall photos.

At the end of the day I learned this, it's not always the camera...the photographer has something to do with it.

I wonder if the Canon will ever come out again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Things About Travel

We’re home. Phew! What a trip! It was 14 days a full, jammed packed, Scottish everything. I thought we were booking when we did Ireland. That trip was a walk in the park compared to this one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I just got exhausted from it. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing with vacations. I wonder what a “relaxing” vacation actually feels like. Someday I might know, until then it’s full throttle.

As I always do after I travel, I reflect on the entire experience. Not just the places we saw, but the experience as a whole. The Pros and Cons of traveling, if you will.

Most my trips don’t have too many “cons”, and when they do it’s likely something I did to cause it.

A lot of folks have asked me what my favorite part of Scotland was…that’s really hard to nail down. We tried every day to call out the “best” and the “worst” for the day. It wasn’t too long into the trip before we realized there weren’t any real “worsts”. There were “just ok’s”, but nothing “worst.”.

So here’s my list of Cons:
  1. There were a couple of LONG days on the bus. One was because we had to get off the Isle of Mull ASAP to avoid being stranded there due to a storm. The other was just getting us from one place to another. The bus rides, wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for their one lane roads and the constant having to pull over to let people pass. Still, it added to the charm of Scotland. (See #2 below).
  2. I’m going to say this, and it’s going to come out not quite like I’m going to mean it…but traveling with people. Janet and I travel so well together that adding two more to our merry band of travelers made the dynamic change slightly. I thoroughly enjoyed having Blueberry and Billie with us. At the same time, I really missed it being just Janet and I. As travelers go though, Billie and Blueberry are good travel companions.
  3. One couple in the tour. We ultimately called them our stalkers. It was like they would purposely seek us out. They weren’t interesting, and she was Miss Negative all the time.
  4. Burning my hair. That was definitely a con.
  5. Burning my hair kinda goes with the whole converter thing. Its necessary. And if I want to continue to travel it will always be, but man it’s a pain in the butt.
  6. Beer. I’m putting Beer in the “con” category because 1) we didn’t get to drink as much as we did in Ireland and 2) I didn’t find Scottish beer particularly interesting.
  7. Not enough scotch. I think I tasted scotch twice. Of course, a Pro could be that I’ve discovered I’m not a huge fan of scotch.
  8. The trip there and the trip back. I hate the actual "traveling" part of travel. Long plane rides are just so long. And this trip, in particular, we were on planes that weren't modern and didn't have TVs in the seats, so watching movies for the entire trip to kill time was out. 

And the Pros:
  1. We had fantastic weather. Just a couple of days of overcast that ultimately burned off, and one day of rain where we were on the bus anyhow.
  2. The crazy one lane roads. As frustrating as they could be, it was pretty cool to see that they hadn’t expanded to fit the tourist industry that has taken over the country. The single lane roads is what I would have expected in Scotland and that’s what we got.
  3. Sheep, sheep and more sheep. Billie and I could not get enough of the sheep. AND, the added bonus was the babies were still babies.
  4. The Globus tour. Say what you will about these types of touristy tours, but to have someone else plan the entire thing for me is awesome. And Globus did a good job. I couldn’t help comparing it to Grand Circle the entire time, and there are things that Grand Circle did that I liked better, but all in all, Globus is a stand out company to tour with.
  5. Castles, castles, castles. I love them all. Some are more interesting than others, and that is certainly true for the 6 we saw on this trip. I prefer the ones that actually look like castles versus the ones that are called a castle, but are really just a huge manor house. My fascination with them is really about the history there and the fact that something was built so many hundreds of years ago and is still standing.
  6. My travel check list. Yes, I have one. It’s been developed over many, many years. Mom and I started it years ago. That list has saved my bacon more times than I care to admit.
  7. And lastly, Scotland. What a beautiful place. If you’ve not been there, you should add it to your bucket list. The lowlands weren’t my favorite, but the highlands…man were they something to witness. None of the photos will do it justice though.
I'm sure I could think of a dozen more for each, but this is what's been on the top of my mind.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Day 14: Homeward Bound

It's hard to believe it's been 14 days since we left Seattle. It's been a fun trip full of memories that will stay with me forever. My traveling companions Janet, Billie and Sherrie made this trip extra special.

We ate a could you not when you're in a new country.

We didn't drink nearly as much as we did in Ireland. That's mostly because, at least for me, their beer wasn't very interesting. Janet and I managed a beer at dinner mostly, but that was it. I had two favorite beers Innis and Gunn  and then Belhaven Best.

This tour was quite different than our tour in Ireland. The company, Globus, as a whole was great. Their website leaves a lot to be desired, but the package they put together for Scotland was top notch. We really did see a ton in Scotland and got a good taste of lowland and highland Scotland. I prefer the highlands myself. Such beauty there.

The plane ride home was long this time. 7 1/2 hours from Glasgow to Philadelphia and then 5 1/2 hours into Seattle. The Seattle leg was sketchy ... a ton of turbulence that, I have to admit, had me worried. Once we landed all I could think about was getting in Wroamin and getting home to my kitties and my own bed.

But fate had another plan. I got my suit case out of Sherrie's car and hit my clicker to open the trunk. Nothing. So I hit it again and still nothing. Wroamin wasn't going anywhere tonight. Ugh. Called Ford Roadside assistance and after waiting an hour, I called them back. The tow truck would be another 2 hours.

Janet had to drive me home and I had to have Sherrie take me back to Janet's the next day. Turns out, newer car batteries will die if not started after about a week and a half.

The jetlag is hitting me hard this trip. All I want to do is take a nap...

Tomorrow it's back to work. Back to earning $$ and vacation time for our next adventure. Our next adventure will be Hawaii in December to celebrate my 50th. After that, we'll be cruising around Norway next May.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Day 13: Glasgow

A good night sleep! That's just what the doctor ordered. We woke to a partly cloudy and windy day. We'd spend the day visiting two museums and basically "killing time" before we can get into our Glasgow hotel for the last night.

Our first museum is The Riverside Transportation museum. We had driven past this museum on our first day in Glasgow all those days ago when we were on the hop on hop off bus. This museum wasn't that interesting, and full of kids. It had some interesting items, but by and large not my favorite stop. Still we were out of the weather and got to see some old things.

Our next stop is Kelvingrove museum. There's all sorts of art here and Ian guaranteed we'd find something interesting here. I'm not a huge art museum fan so I wasn't sure at all that I'd find something interesting. They had an entire wing dedicated to animals, so at least we got that. Another room was dedicated to Egypt and I will admit, I found that interesting.

The museum was beautiful though. The architecture was so fantastic. That was worth it for me.

Note the photo bomber in the back left by Janet. The "guy" in the photo is our tour guide Ian. He was fantastic and hilarious and full of useful and non useful information. 

Finally, we got to the Radison Blue hotel. It's located downtown. Our rooms weren't available yet, so we took off on foot to find lunch. I asked the desk about where they'd get fish n chips if they had a choice. They recommended Chippy Doon the off we went.

It wasn't easy to find, that's for sure. It was located down this sketchy alley way and we weren't sure it was even open or if we should even bothered. We climbed the flight of stairs and were dumped into this fantastic little restaurant.

Can I just say...likely the BEST fish n chips of the entire trip.

I'm not a fan of the chips in Scotland. I like my chips crunchy and even when asking for them to be crispy they really don't crisp up at all. It didn't stop me from eating them of course.

Tonight was our farewell dinner. Its bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I've enjoyed myself immensely. On the other, I'm ready to go home. The worst part of vacationing happens tomorrow...the long flight home.

We had a good group of people on this tour. Only two slightly awkward and annoying stalkers - they seemed to seek us out and want to annoy us. They were nice enough, but not very interesting and odd. Aside from them, the rest of the group was a ton of fun. Full of a smattering of personalities as you would expect and people from all over the world.

Farewell photo with Alistair the amazing bus driver and Ian the amazing tour guide.