23 February 2018

Feline Friday

Did you know that cats get a new winter coat each year? It's true, but maybe not in the way you think!

Lily has decided that MY winter coat is now HER new winter coat! The minute I take it off, she curls up on it!

Too bad I have to move her each time I need my coat and find her wearing it. It's too cold for me to go without MY winter coat!  I guess we're sharing now!

21 February 2018

Recipe: Homemade Salsa Verde

My daughter recently shared a recipe for homemade salsa verde. It seriously couldn't be easier...even I made it successfully!

You should be able to click on this image to enlarge it to see the recipe.

This easy recipe came from a Tex Mex cookbook in Bailey's boyfriend's growing collection. He has taken up cooking seriously in recent years, and her culinary skills have improved because of him! Even I've become a TINY bit more competent in the kitchen as a result of his suggestions and recipes. (I still have a LONG way to go...)

There are only a few ingredients in this recipe (tomatillos being the main one). Pop them in the blender, push the button a couple of times and you're done! As a bonus, I even whipped up a small batch of homemade guacamole.

The salsa and guacamole were really tasty with grilled chicken tacos, another recipe from the kids in Texas.

Even though she's very far away, I'll concede that there are a few good things about having a daughter in Texas...authentic TexMex recipes being one of them! 

17 February 2018

Scrapbooking: Pocket Pages for the Win!

So a few weeks ago I got back into the massive scrapbooking "catch up" (is that even possible?) project I started last year. It had been so long that I didn't even know where I'd left off. Then it all came back to me. 

2003. That's a LONG time ago!

I scrapbooked a LOT back in those days, but apparently I skipped over events that seemed overwhelming or problematic for one reason or another. As it turned out, some years were mostly SKIPS without a lot actually scrapbooked! Moreover, it became really difficult to add pages to my post-bound albums so I just sort of gave up. Last year I switched them all to 3-ring binders, which makes it easy to go back and FINALLY finish. Binders are the best thing ever.

 As I've mentioned before, pocket pages and smaller size page sleeves have turned out to be my saving grace. They're much easier than making traditional 12x12 scrapbook pages for every event, and you can match the size of the pocket page to whatever needs to go in it.

For instance, I had saved Bailey's 6th grade schedule, and it fit perfectly inside a 5x7 sleeve. A few other school pictures are on the back side.

 In the box of 2003 photos, there were several photos that hadn't made it to the scrapbook the first time around. In this case, there was only one photo of this event (Bailey's first time BABYSITTING!) and back in those days, I didn't like doing single-photo pages so I guess I just skipped it. (WHY??) This picture and story fit perfectly in a small sleeve.

I also ran across several photos that I skipped for other reasons but now (with the passage of time...sigh...) I thought too adorable to leave out. These three "bus stop" pictures fit nicely in a 6x12 sleeve without much fuss.

 Back in my "early days" of scrapbooking, I also skipped over of my own events. I know that it's not good to leave yourself out of the scrapbooks, so as I've found pictures of myself or my activities, I've added them in. I have very few pictures of myself teaching classes, so I was actually kind of happy to add these convention photos to the album using a traditional page.

I'm also not a fan of holiday scrapbooking, so I had skipped over all of the holidays, too. (Are you sensing a theme here???) So this time around, I had no choice but to finish Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Pocket pages made it easy to add those events in between my traditional 12x12 pages.

In going through my 2003 stuff, I realized that I'd also skipped over events for which I had newspaper articles. I probably intended at the time to take them to Memory Bound to color copy but never got around to doing it so they went into the album AS IS. It was actually great to have those articles because they pretty much took care of the journaling for me.

I've slogged through multiple Christmas pages and can't wait to finish up the journaling so this album can be officially done.

After all...2004 awaits! :)

16 February 2018

Feline Friday with Rory

 Wondering what Cousin Rory in Texas has been up to lately? Let's take a look!

She went for a VERY brief stroll out on the balcony and quickly decided it wasn't for her, in spite of how cute she looks in that harness. The balcony over the parking lot feels scary, but I'm betting she'll love being on a harness in a real yard someday!

Since you've seen her last, Rory's ears have somehow grown even larger.

She's also been enjoying the tent we sent her for Christmas. Here you can see her "camping in nature" (enjoying bird/squirrel videos on YouTube).😺

Oops, she also developed an interest in Parks and Rec. Well, it's KIND OF nature-y.

 As you can see, Rory has been pretty busy lately...but never too busy to sit on her Meowmy's lap and just be adorable!  

Happy Feline Friday from Rory, y'all!

15 February 2018

2018 Fitness Habits

I'm absolutely one of the least athletic people you'll ever meet. As a child, I was always the last to be picked in gym class and came to believe that I simply wasn't capable of doing anything physical. So even though I'd always been an active/busy person, I had never really exercised until we joined our local gym a few years back.  Since joining, I've noticed a big difference in my overall strength, flexibility, and stamina. And I think that regular exercise also contributed to good blood-work numbers I received at my physical last fall. (Check out this post from my first few days at the gym back in 2008! I have indeed made some progress since then when I considered it torture! LOL)

In October, our gym got some new equipment which allows you to track your progress. I happened to be trying out one of the new bikes when the manager offered me a key fob so I could track myself. I wasn't sure I wanted to do that but he encouraged me to give it a try. (Really, why not?)

As it turned out, I found that tracking my progress was highly motivating! I set up a weekly goal and each time I use the equipment, it counts toward that goal. Once I started tracking my progress, I was motivated to go to the gym more often. Funny how that works! :)

Because I was motivated to track my progress, I decided that I could surely make time to go to the gym every day. After all, it's very close to our house and open 24 hours a day. So I started going every day, either to run or bike. 

 I'm dealing with a sore foot right now so, I've added the elliptical and rowing into my rotation of gym activities. While I'm there, I watch YouTube videos on my phone and the time flies by!

Once I started going every day, I realized that I could get onto the "biggest user" list that the gym posts every month -- the people who go most often. This list is not for the "most fit" or "people who work the hardest". To make the list, you just have to show up. That I can do! LOL
So by making the gym a daily habit, I made the list in November, December, and January. And silly as it may be, that in itself has been motivation to keep going. When you consider where I started back in 2008 (read that old post, if you haven't!), the fact that I've managed to get myself onto any gym list at all is pretty hilarious! :)

Can I keep up with going to the gym every day? Maybe not. But I can certainly go with more consistency and be more mindful of how I'm spending my time there.

In January, I also decided to step up my yoga game and make it a daily habit. I've found that I get the most benefit from a home yoga practice by doing a little each day.  I've been doing yoga regularly for two years now (Yoga with Adriene) but not every day. 

In January, my daughter and I joined Adriene's 30-day yoga journey and for the first time since doing 30-day challenges, I did not miss a single day. YAY! I've kept it going through February, too. I find that making check-marks on my yoga calendar is motivating! Silly, but it works for me.

So what's the point of this blog post? I've found that by being physically active each day -- consistently -- this "chore" has turned into a habit. Now I don't come up with excuses to miss the gym or do my yoga. As a result, I feel better, I sleep better (because I'm REALLY tired on some days!) and I'm getting stronger. 

I'm still not athletic, but showing up for myself -- on the yoga mat and at the gym -- is making a big difference in my well-being. And that makes it worth it!


09 February 2018

Feline Friday: Lily, AKA...

Here are some little known fun facts: 
Our Lily is named after Harry Potter's mother. Her middle name is Ginevra, after Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter series. Our daughter named her in the height of the Harry Potter era!

I don't usually use Lily's given middle name (it's hard to say and even harder to spell!), opting for "Lily Marie" instead. Heck, quite often I don't even use Lily's first name!

 Instead, Lily has developed quite a long list of nicknames. Here are the names she goes by:

Peaches (probably the most used)
Peaches Marie
Lily Marie...and its more formal version
Lilian Marie 
Missy...which morphed to
Missy Kaboodlecat
Darling Drawers (I know...LOL)
Lilliputian (literary reference!)
Girlfriend...which morphed to
Girlfriend Kitty
Kitten Cat
LilyBean...(a reference to her toes) which morphed to
Baby Dollface....which morphed to
Dollface Girl
Tiny Tidbit...which morphed to
Tiniest of Tidbits (a variation)
 Tiny Tidbit of Everlasting Joy... and
Tidbit Drawers (I know...)
Precious...which morphed to
Precious Moments of Kitten (causes Spouse to cringe)
Tiny Tot...which morphed to
Tater Tot
Marvelous Morsels of Meow (sorry...)
Snookie...which morphed to
Peanut Drawers (which is used a LOT)

Amazingly, Lily recognizes all of her various names! She never fails to come when called...especially when food is involved! :)

Whatever you call it...
Happy Feline Friday!

02 February 2018

Feline Friday

This week with Lily:

MONDAY: Wash Day
So helpful!

TUESDAY: Ironing Day
Lily is not allowed to touch the hot iron, so she pressed her blankie FLAT just by sleeping hard on it!

  WEDNESDAY: Sewing Day
She is "SEW" CUTE!

 THURSDAY: Market Day
Lily advertises for Feliway in her spare time!

FRIDAY: Cleaning Day
 Lily washed her feet until they were WHITE! :)

 SATURDAY: Baking Day 
Lily suggests that EVERY day be Baking Day!

SUNDAY: Day of Rest...Lily's favorite day!
Lily enjoyed watching Moana this week! 😊
 We hope everyone has a nice weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

26 January 2018

Feline Friday: Cat Cam!

We recently got a security camera which is linked to our phones. I feel like I just crawled out from under a rock, because I've recently learned that this is the way home monitoring (even baby monitoring!) systems work today. I have to say that the idea is great...especially if you have a cat! 

*** THINK CAT CAM!! ***

It's like we've suddenly gained access to The Secret World of Cats!

We like our camera (cat cam!) so much that we bought one for Bailey, too. Now when she's away, she can make sure everything's OK at home -- and with Rory! It's fun to peek in on her to see what she's up to all day!

(SIDE NOTE: In case anyone is wondering, we've confirmed that cats sleep A LOT of the day away while their meowmies are gone! They should be very well rested!)

Recently Bailey left a bird/squirrel video playing for Rory, just to keep her company when Bailey went to work.

Sure enough, the camera caught her watching it during the day! TOO CUTE!

Then it was back to bed for Rory!😺 The cat cam reveals all!

22 January 2018

Still Catching Up on Scrapbooking



Last year, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to get my scrapbooking situation back on track. I started strong, but then life got in the way, as it always does. The very sad situation with Tinsel really took the wind out of my sails and for a long period of time, I just didn't feel like scrapbooking.

On a happier note, my new-found obsession of genealogy also got in the way. I spent a lot of time working on my family history albums, which was time very well spent.

 And I finished a Florida trip album set which I'd started too long ago.
 And I made a very full summer camp album for my daughter, a project that needed to be done.

I also converted several post-bound albums to 3-ring binders and sorted through mountains of photos as I prepared to "catch up" on my family scrapbooks.

So when I think about what I accomplished scrapbooking-wise in 2017, I was actually pretty productive...just not on the tasks I planned to complete! I did the "B" items on my list and left the "A" item undone. Scrapbooking projects with a fixed beginning and end (like my Florida album) are always easier to complete than chronological albums which don't have an end in sight. It's only natural (and not a bad thing, really) to focus on those "low-hanging fruit" projects, because they can give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to keep going.

But my "A" list scrapbooking still looms so this weekend I decided to get back to it, and I couldn't even remember where I'd left off. Turns out I left off in 2003, mired in some journaling for the state fair. The last time I worked on this project was probably June. SIX MONTHS, PEOPLE! Good grief!
Sometimes it's harder to get back into something than it really should be. It's harder to go to the gym after a long absence than it is to go regularly. Chronological scrapbooking is a little bit like that. The longer you let it sit, the harder it is to get back to it.

But this is important to me, so I jumped back in and finished the journaling for the fair pages then moved on to the next event and the one after that. And I'm not putting it away. Each box of photos will continue to sit out on my table as an ever-present reminder to GIT-R-DONE.
This year, I need to figure out one day a week to really focus on this scrapbooking project. If I'd just dedicate time to it, I'd get it under control. I tell new scrapbookers to schedule time for themselves, but I need to more consistently practice what I preach.

That's my commitment to myself.


19 January 2018

Feline Friday

The road to my heart is paved with paw prints.
-Alanna Chasin

18 January 2018

Family History: Carrying on This Important Work

My family research project continues! I'm on the second of who-knows-how-many scrapbooks and my Ancestry online tree now has 400+ people in it. I've come quite a long way since starting this project a few months ago!

I now have identified all 16 great grandparents, 30 of my 32 great-great grandparents and many beyond that. As I've worked on my mom's side of the family, I've been researching lines that originated in Ireland and England. I've looked at castles, read about religious wars, and checked out family tartan patterns. It's interesting stuff!

In contrast to my dad's side of the family (where I was lucky to start with my grandma's extensive research as a foundation), I really have very little information about my mom's family. Mom's parents were divorced when she and her sister were quite young, and it wasn't an amicable situation. As a result, I know very little about my grandfather's family. In addition, my grandmother became estranged from her own family over the years so I have little information about them, either. 

Still, as I've worked on this project, I've had the sense that I'd somehow be able to figure out everything in due time...that I in fact possess books, documents, photos, or other memorabilia that will help me piece together my family history -- even if I haven't yet been able to see or find the information I need. And so far, this has truly been the case: I've found photos and opened books that I own but have never read to discover all kinds of missing information. It may sound a little weird but I have had the sense that I NEED to be doing this work and that I'll somehow be guided in doing it.

With that mindset, I rummaged through the house to find the few family artifacts I have which might help me start this part of my family tree.
The largest item I have is this ancient family Bible from my mom's father's side of the family. I found it in the bottom of an old trunk in my parents' basement after Dad passed away. It hadn't been opened in a very long time and was in such fragile condition that I didn't even look at it. I just boxed it up and brought it home, and it has been sitting untouched ever since. 

 I'll confess that in my state of grief, I very briefly considered putting this old Bible on the auction (I was so overwhelmed that made a few wrong-headed decisions at the time). But I'm very glad I decided to keep it because when I opened it up, I found several important family records. I have since learned that family Bibles are a very important (but often discarded or overlooked) source for genealogical research.

Lo and behold, tucked between the pages were baptism certificates, marriage records, and lists of relatives with birth, marriage, and death dates -- exactly the kind of information one needs when doing genealogy. All of this was hidden in the Bible and I didn't even know it. Again, it was information already in my possession that I just wasn't ready to find until now.

The Bible itself, although in fragile condition, is beautifully illustrated with large fold-out pictures and charts.


There are even a few family photos in the back. The information in this family Bible will be tremendously helpful in building my mom's side of the family tree.

I also remembered that I inherited a booklet compiled in 1948 by my second great-aunt Mate, a witty and colorful lady who I had the opportunity to know. It contains a family history of sorts written in story format, complete with her hand-drawn illustrations. I'd never even opened it until last week.

 Turns out it was so interesting that I couldn't put it down!
 As I read through it late one night, I kept the Ancestry app open on my phone and added in the generations my Aunt Mate detailed. As I found family member links on Ancestry, I could verify them using the birth dates she included in her book. It was almost like we were working on this project together across time and space.

And then I turned the page to find this beautiful picture of my great-great grandmother Hayes, Aunt Mate's mother, to whom she dedicated her book. I'd never seen her before.

This book is a real treasure, to say the least. Aunt Mate paints a very vivid picture of all the people she knew personally in her family and includes many humorous and poignant stories. Her writing breathes life into the people in my family tree.

And then at the very end, when I could hardly keep my eyes open, I was struck by this paragraph:

This closes this little story about my ancestors. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. There are many things left out that I'm sure you would have said, but I have done this to the best of my ability and sincerely hope some one will carry on where I have left off.

 Sure enough, I thought...THAT'S ME. The torch has been passed, and I'm doing my very best to carry on where Aunt Mate left off. 

This family history is important work, and I'm the one who must do it. I knew it all along!