Thursday, May 09, 2019

Ohhh the burn....

I'm still riding that motivation wave. I'm going to do that as long as I can and try to remind myself that every day is another day towards feeling better, making a habit, and treating myself the way I deserve. 

Yesterday was the first official personal trainer session. I spent hours prior trying to think of an excuse to not "be able to make it". Even the idea of having paid for this wasn't really enough to keep my head in the game. As the day progressed I finally realized what I was doing and just stopped. It's amazing how YEARS of habit really is a dangerous thing. 

I got there and met up with Zohan the Great (that's what I'm calling him and he thinks it's hilarious). Our first task was to measure every single part of my body and *gasp* do a BMI test. I didn't even ask what my BMI was because I think I know it's AT LEAST in the 40%. At any rate, he wrote it down in his magical booklet about me and he'll tell me where I've improved. 

We measured all the normal stuff, chest, abdomen, hips and then we measured each limb - top and bottom of  the limb), my neck, and my shoulders.  All those measurements he gave me so we can track. We'll be measuring every 2 weeks...which seems like a lot, BUT that means I have to get my butt in gear to actually make changes. He's convinced in two weeks we'll see changes. I'm skeptical, but that's Negative Jenn talking. 

He put me on a resistance machine last night for upper strength. There were three different exercise for arms and each one was done in 45 second intervals. By the end of it I was shaking. My arms were so tired that they trembled. I get done with the last one and as we're walking away he says, "You know you can take it slower and break in between if you want." Now you tell me. I suspected it was a test but at least now I know it's about quality and not quantity. 

Our last adventure was on the elliptical. He had previously told me he didn't want me doing the elliptical - but what he meant was how I was doing the elliptical. He set up a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for me that KICKED....MY....A$$. Oh Lord...and what's worse, I only did half of what he wants me to do. 

His motivation towards me is a welcome change to the inner dialog I have with myself all the time. How did I get here? How did I get so negative about myself? It's gradual I'll tell you that. I used to feel relatively carefree and positive about almost everything. Then something happened - when it started I don't know, but it did and now I have to dig myself out of it. 

Oh and by the remember that homework of I mentioned a couple of days ago? One of them was to do a push up every time I open the fridge. Do you know how many times I open the fridge when I'm home? My water is in there...let's just say it's a lot and I'm behind in the number of Push Ups. 

Last thing...little win for me yesterday. After my work out (from 5-6) I was starving. My brain said to just swing by Jersey Mike's and grab a sandwich. I mean I'm right there. It would be simple. I'd be able to eat immediately when I got home, blah blah blah. Excuse Excuse Excuse...Then my other brain kicked in and told me that I had healthy stuff at home and it wouldn't take more than 30 minutes to cook it. I'd survive. And you know what, I'm glad I did. I did survive and I felt way better about what I ate than what I would have felt like. That's one in the "W" Column. 

Monday, May 06, 2019

Healthier Me - Part 2

Yesterday I told you all about my personal training Zohan. There's more to this healthier me story that I thought I'd mention.

Back in April when I challenged The Niece to exercising, I also signed up for a meal menu thingy. I signed up with this company called PlateJoy. The idea is weekly you create a menu for yourself based on your health goals (low carb, 1500 cal a day, etc). PlateJoy will provide you meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You decide how many you want for the whole week. For example, I have one breakfast, for 5 days, 1 lunch meals for 1 day and 4 dinners for 5 days - of which I use half for lunch the next day.

I use this in combination with my Cooking Light meals I have too.

I know that if I don't plan, I'm not going to make good choices. This I've proven time and again. So my goal this time is to cook/prep on Sunday's and have everything prepared and ready for the week.

I just finished the 4th week of this and I've gotta say this is working like a charm. In the last 4 weeks I've only gotten fast food for dinner once.

The weekends are a whole other problem. I need to figure out how to do better on's getting better though. I think about it more, which is a good thing.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo...the US holiday in which we all pretend to be Mexican. I am doing nothing related to Mexico, Mexican food, or Mexican beer. Instead the Sister In Law is coming over to scrapbook. Yesterday was International Scrapbook Day and I postponed any fun stuff until today.

Let me get you caught up a bit.

Back in December, when I came home from Hawaii I made a promise to myself. I hated how I felt in Hawaii. Tired, hot all the time, exhausted, and the weakest link. I just hated that I felt like this. So, I decided I wanted to do something about it.

Jan - Mar I pretended to be doing "something". I would go to the gym every now and then, but nothing serious. Then April happened and I realized my May trip with Janet is right around the corner and I needed to get my big butt in gear.

I challenged The Niece to 20 days of exercise in April. Our rule was we had to photograph while working out or after to prove we did it and send to each other. It's a great motivation for sure. She's competitive and so am I. I did 19 of the 20 (I counted wrong or I would have had 20). All the while I was thinking about how doing the elliptical wasn't really cutting it for me and yet I didn't have any confidence to try any weights.

Then I had a thought...maybe I should hire a personal trainer to teach me the weights and then I wouldn't feel as uncomfortable with them.

So yesterday I did just that. Meet Zohan. The Personal Trainer who promises to help me get more in shape and healthier. He's a great guy. Yesterday was all about assessing my strength. I was dreading this, and honestly, almost cancelled. I really didn't want to face down this demon and appear weak in front of a stranger. But I did it. And am glad I did.

We started the assessment on the treadmill. He walked on the one next to me as we assessed a one mile walk at a normal walking pace for me. Took me 22 minutes and my heart rate was at 152 when we were done. All the while he entertained me by playing 20 questions. It was great. We were done in no time. I shared with him some of my insecurities and he had an answer/suggestion for every single one...and not in an annoying way.

After the walking we went over to do some strength. He had me grab an 8lb dumb bell. Than with each arm I would do as many arm curls as I could. I told Zohan to not expect too many. Turns out I did 40 with each arm. Way more than I thought.

That followed a plank exercise...oh Lord. Again, I mentioned how unlikely it'd be I'd last 10 seconds. I lasted 40 seconds.

Then we did squats.  He had me get up and down from a chair to make sure that I didn't strain my back or my knees. He put some mats under my toes so when I stood it would put more emphasis on my heels and not my knees. Made a huge difference. By this time I was thinking I might be able to do more than planned. I did 30.

The last test was the most amusing to me. Zohan's family is from Jamaica and he happens to love flamingos. So the "stork test" he calls the "Flamingo test" he perfect for me or what? This is basically the sobriety test. Stand on one foot, the other bent at your knee. Hold your arms out and touch your nose. This checks your balance. Turns out my balance sucks. I only got 6 seconds on my right foot and 10 seconds on my left.

After all was said and done, Zohan had a plan for me. This plan includes homework to which I think is awesome...and how something as simple of this can make a big difference.

Since my "habit" at night is watching TV, he's making it worth my while. Here's my homework:
First what he calls the "Passive Three":

  1. Walk as much as I can during the day, with a goal to 3,000 steps
  2. Park far away in the parking lot
  3. Take the stairs a couple times a day
Then when I'm at home:
  1. For each commercial break I should do 5 squats. 
  2. When cooking, every time I open the fridge, I do 1 push up
  3. When a show ends, I am to do a 40 minute plank
I'm as sore as anything today, so we aren't starting this until tomorrow (which I'll probably be more sore). I'll start seeing Zohan on Wed and Friday's. This PT stuff is not cheap, but I am worth it. I figured I either spend the money now to help me or I spend it in medical bills later. 

Here's what I learned about myself yesterday, I'm WAY stronger than I think I am. And Zohan was right, my negative talk is holding me back. I need to work on that. Truthfully, I think one of my tasks for homework should be to do a plank, push up or squat every time I have a negative thought...I might be in shape in no time. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Hoppy Easter

Mom used to say that all the time. She'd say it, then giggle. It was one of my favorite, stupid, things she did.

Last weekend I spent in Sacramento at a scrapbook retreat. In preparation of this retreat I spent DAYS staging what I would be doing because I knew I couldn't bring my entire scrapbook room. In the deciding process of what to do for 4 full days at a scrapbook retreat, I decided I would redo all my 12X12 scrapbooks into Traverl's Notebooks (8X8 ultimately). Many people think I'm crazy, but this gal thinks 58 HUGE 12X12 scrapbooks are not scalable. I mean, that's just a ton to try to move. And most people won't pick up a scrapbook that size, but they may pick up a smaller one.

Anyhow, the years I decided to work on were full of little trips with mom and dad. Reliving these vacations was such a blessing. It brought back so many fond memories. Which then got me really thinking about mom.

And missing mom. Not in a sad way. Just missing her.

I have a folder of "mom" stuff that I keep. It's got letters I write to her, sayings, poems, etc. It is my little treasure trove of memories and healing. I stumbled onto this little gem I wrote about 4 months after she passed. I read it and thought,'s still true today.

I’ll never forget the day she died.
But I’ll also never forget the day after she died.
I was in her home trying to decide what to keep, what to get rid of and what to try to sale. It was my first full day without her. From the minute I woke up until I laid down my head to go to sleep at night. The first day she wasn’t there for any part of it.
She couldn’t hear about it, I couldn’t tell her about it and she wasn’t there to care about it.  The one person who cared about every minute of my life wasn’t there to worry about it anymore. I was experiencing the worst day of my entire life and the one person I wanted to call to help me through it was gone.
The day she died was horrible but the day after was worse because it really sank in and there was no way to try and pretend yesterday was all a bad dream because I had woken up and it was still a reality.
The one person I shared everything with was gone and didn’t say goodbye. She was gone somewhere that I would never be able to see her again, gone to a place so far away that I couldn’t even reach her.
It was the an entire day without her from start to finish.
It was my first full day in my new role as a motherless daughter and I didn’t show up prepared, but that didn’t matter because there aren’t any qualifications for this role.
I’ll never forget the day she died just like I will never forget the day after she died because who I became on the day after she died was different from who I was the day she died.
I’ll also never forget all the days in between because those are the days where I became Jo’s daughter again instead of a motherless daughter.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Goals...and such

Here we are just 3 weeks after Hawaii. I miss Hawaii. I'd love to actually go to Hawaii some day and not run all over hell's half acre. It sounds good. I'm not sure I could do it, but it's nice to have goals.

When in Hawaii I wasn't overly happy with myself. I have let myself get unhealthy ... again. I got tired easy and the humidity did me in quicker than normal. I hated it. I hated flying since my ass barely fit in the seat. I had to actually ask for an extender to buckle myself up. The Horror.

Post Hawaii I thought, "never again." I was ashamed and mad at myself for letting me get to that point again. I started thinking about Dad. I remember watching him give himself shots daily for diabetes and I used to think, "Gosh. Had he made the right choices in his life he wouldn't be her. That won't ever be me."  And here I am...

Choices. That's what its all about. We get to make choices.  I decided upon return from Hawaii that come the time Janet and I leave for Denmark I'm not going to feel this way. I'm going to be able to keep up with Janet...the energizer bunny.

The first two weeks back I got myself to the gym about 3 times a week. I was proud of myself for doing that. Then I thought, what if you give yourself a goal to go 7 days in a row?  Why not!

7 days! I went every day for 7 days. Now my goal is 10. Can I go 10 days? I don't see why not. In fact, I might even be able to do 14...I feel great. I have a lot still to do, but I feel really good. I know this motivation may not last, and there was at least one day I almost let laziness win, but for the time being I'm going to ride this motivation wave. 

I'm toying with stopping Jenny Craig and focusing on low carb, high protein nutritional meals...but baby steps first. The Niece and I are both discussing helping each other with this. In fact, after every work out I send her a photo...thus the photos above. I purposely make them bad... she just rolls her eyes. 

In other non-health related news, and frankly quite opposite is today Janet, Sherrie and the Niece and I celebrated Mom again by eating brunch at Salty's on Alki. It's a MASSIVE brunch buffet and so very good. We did this last year and I thought we'd make this annual and today was our 2nd annual celebration of mom. 

I'm stuffed still and that was 6 hours ago. But getting to the gym after helped. It's such a beautiful day in Seattle I drove home with the top down. It was 44F outside, but with the traffic on the freeway I wasn't driving too fast. I just love Seattle on sunny days...and in the winter it's a bonus to have a sunny day. 

Monday, January 07, 2019

Post Vacation Woes we are...Post Hawaii. And what do I get for it...the Hawaiian Plague. I've come down with a helluva cold. I hate being down and out. I have things I need to do and I can't because this cold is holding me back. I feel way better today than I did yesterday, that's for sure. I might actually get to work tomorrow.

Hawaii was an absolute blast. It was a fun filled driving extravaganza. We drove over 1000 miles and covered the entire island, and then some.

We arrived on Dec 27th, later than planned, and went almost right to bed. We caught up briefly with the other travelers with us and then called it a night.

The 28th we took off to the final winery on my list, the Volcano Winery. We drove a good 2 hours to get there, and then tasted a flight of 8 wines. Most their wines were not good. A couple were "just ok" and only 2 were worthy of purchase. Still it was a fun trip and a great way to finish off my 50 new wineries in my 50th year.

Then I work on the 29th to a flood of cards and gifts. The Niece had planned a card bomb for me (Mom would have loved it) and I had over 55 cards to read and appreciate. It was truly amazing. It got a bit worked up a little.

After reading a couple, we loaded into the Jeep and headed to breakfast. The Braspir's joined us at Bongo Ben's and we had a celebratory birthday breakfast, crown and all.

With our tummies filled, we drove up the Kohala coast, eventually ending up in Hawi for ice cream.

Later that night, we all gathered to eat at Huggo's. I love this family so much and they helped me ring in my 50th year with style.

The rest of the week was filled with trips to Hilo, the south end, a black sand beach, the Volcano, and all over the island. We went to a Luau on New Year's Eve (wasn't my favorite Luau, but fun).

All in all it was a fantastic trip. I miss Hawaii. We hadn't been there since 2006 and we were well past due to visit. I'd like to go back, maybe to a different island, in two years.

Now 2019 is looming before me, I find myself reflecting on what I want from this year. The same old goals come to mind, save more, lose more weight, yaddah yaddah...but what else do I want? That's the million dollar question. I've had some ideas/plans in my head for a couple of years of some things I want to do and maybe this is the year to do them. I need to think more on that. I need to get rid of this cold first, so I can think. Blerg!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Merry Ho HO

On the eve EVE of Christmas I find myself reminiscing. So many lovely memories of Christmas' past that I found myself smiling wide. Here are just a couple that came to mind.

EVERY Christmas Eve Dad and I would take off, have lunch, and do shopping for Mom. It started because he procrastinated and I offered to help him, then it just became tradition. He always bought me a gift as well. I'd spend all year thinking of something he could buy me. Something Dad could have input on.

Christmas' in Hawaii. We leave in 3 days for Hawaii. Mom and Dad loved spending the holidays in Hawaii. We'd fly into Honolulu and see the Dionisio's. Then off to another island we'd go. There was always family that joined on and off. There was always soooo much food - we'd laugh at how much dad would buy for a week.

One of our first Christmas' as a family my last give was a box with a note in it. The note said, "Go check the trunk of the Thunderbird." I went outside and in it was the comforter I wanted so badly. It was white with a black cat and a red heart. I was sooo excited I could barely contain myself. I ran back into the house and stopped short to see Mom holding a black and white kitten for me. Sylvester. She told me it was all Dad's idea...

Grandma Miller used to wrap her packages with this amazingly colorful foil wrap. Each package was decorated to YOUR liking.

I could go on and on. I was pretty lucky to have such great parents who took Christmas seriously. Not only about gifts, but about the love that was felt.

The closer to Hawaii we get, the more I think about Mom and Dad and how they'd be joining us. They'll be missed and I guarantee there will be conversations about Dad and the pineapples he bought.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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".