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End of Year Chicken

Havi Brooks does this thing on her blog called the Friday Chicken, wherein every Friday she talks about the hard and the good aspects of her week. I think it’s a great exercise, so I thought I’d give it a try as an end of year review. Turns out she did the same thing in New Year’s: The Great 2009 Chicken. I was going to call it the Year End Chicken, but I think The Great 2009 Chicken has more flair. Anyhow, on with the list…

The Hard


Infertility
This year started off with me still trying to move past a miscarriage from the end of 2008. This is probably the hardest thing I dealt with this year. I cried. A lot. I sunk into depression. I tried to focus on the good things, but it just didn’t help that I felt empty and lost.

Conception still hasn’t happened for us as of now, more than a year later, which makes things even harder. In October we started seeing an infertility specialist to check for any problems. All the tests have come up “everything is great/perfect/right where it …

Cooking for How Many?

I know how to cook for two. I know how much food to take out if I want just enough or if I want there to be leftovers. When I got divorced, I had to learn how to cook for one, which is difficult because food tends not to come in single servings. It's also tough to be motivated to cook for one. I had a lot of cereal, soup, and pasta- things that could easily be portioned.

When I got remarried, I suddenly had to cook for three. I now know that 3/4 of a pound of pasta and one jar of sauce is just about right. If I kick up the sauce with extra ingredients and use the full pound of pasta, there will be leftovers.

Chicken tenderloins come seven to a package. That's three for my husband, two for me, and two for my stepson. One can of corn splits three ways perfectly. I can buy a two pack of steak, plus one individually wrapped steak to feed three. One head of broccoli steams a serving for each of us.

It took a lot of trial and error to get to this point. I made meals that lef…

Blogging About Stepfamily Life

Early this fall, I started thinking more about my life as a stepmom, more about my relationships with my own stepparents and step-siblings, and I realized I needed an outlet for those types of discussions.

It's hard to admit, but sometimes I feel like I'm crazy. As in honest-to-goodness crazy. I get emotional, fearful, and have some really tough days. It wasn't until I read Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do that I realized I wasn't crazy. In fact, everything that I have felt and thought over the last few years as I've entered in to stepmotherhood are things other stepmoms go through. It was such a relief.

Since then, I approach things with more gentleness (to myself and my family). I do my best not to take offense at things where no offense was intended. I try to be helpful to my husband and my stepson and I also try to recognize my own needs and desires.

It's things like this that made me think maybe o…

Christmas Photos

Before Christmas is a long lost memory, here are some of my favorite photographs from the holidays. May we hold tight to Christmas spirit all year long.









Today I am an artist

I love this time of year because it fills me with a feeling that anything is possible.

For the past few days, I have been off work and I won't be returning until after the New Year. I spent those first few days cooking and doing some last minute shopping in preparation for Christmas.

Today begins a week without work or holidays to prepare for. I've already begun to let loose and do whatever strikes my fancy, no matter how silly. This morning, that meant dusting off my vision journal and ripping up magazines for a little collage work.

I started by cutting out pictures that resonated with me to create a vision board. I'm still deciphering the message, but I see lots of soft rounded shapes and rich earth tones.



Then I morphed an idea from Keri Smith's Living Out Loud. She talks about creating a finder by cutting a one-inch square out of a small piece of paper. By looking through the hole, you notice textures and details in the world around you, rather than only se…

The little book: a Christmas tradition

“It’s only two days ‘til Christmas,” my 12-year-old stepson keeps saying. It has now been “two days ‘til Christmas” since last Friday. Wishful thinking?

I can’t help but share his enthusiasm. I love Christmas. I love the lights, the bustle of people, shopping for the perfect gift, and wrapping gifts in cheerful paper. It really is a wonderful time of year for me.

The other day my stepson asked what we were doing in the coming days. When we got to Christmas Eve I said that we would be visiting our friends for the Feast of Seven Fishes, just like we had last year. (He loved the Feast last year. Any day he can have shrimp is a good day.) I continued that we would get home late, go to bed, and wake up for our usual Christmas morning routine.

“But when are we going to read the little book?” he asked, almost whining. My heart filled with joy in that moment.

You see, “the little book” is one of my Christmas ornaments. It is a 2x2” red leather bound copy of The Night Before Christmas

Working Mother Wednesday

For some reason it seems like I don't meet a lot of stepmoms. So when I started talking about this blog, I was surprised to to hear that Working Mother was seeing increased interest in blended families.

It makes sense. With divorce rates as high as they are, there must be a fair number of stepfamilies out there. Where are they hiding? I'll have to do a little research on that.

I was even more surprised to be asked to write on the Mom Blogs at WorkingMother.com. What an honor!

Every Wednesday I will be writing Stepmom Diaries at the Mom Blogs. My first post launched yesterday. (A day early- oops!) I hope that through Stepmom Diaries and here at Too Many Toasters we can get a dialogue going about stepfamily life.

Happy Wednesday!

How Many Toasters Can One House Hold?

Through a series of unfortunate events, my in-laws recently had to move in with us. Of all the things that could happen a year and four months into marriage, this is not one I expected.

I was just beginning to feel there was a rhythm to the new life my husband, my stepson, and I were creating. Routines were starting to fall into place and relationships were settling in. I even have the frozen setting on the toaster figured out.

My in-laws used to live five minutes from us and have been an active part of our family. Nana, in particular, spent several days a week with my stepson after school, which was extremely helpful while my husband and I were at work.

My new family is much tighter on a day-to-day basis than what I was used to with my own family. My father lives close to 200 miles away and my mother is well over 2,000 miles away.

Now, however, my in-laws are 5 seconds away – just across the hall in the guest bedroom. (I know the math is wrong but I think to get from 5 minutes …

Scheduling Around the Stepson

Adjusting to life with a pre-teen child is unusual. For me it was especially unusual because I "joined a family already in progress," as the lovely Erin of Stepchicks so perfectly describes it.

I had no children of my own coming in to my marriage. My stepson was nearly 9 years old when I met him. In no time flat, my life went from being mostly about me to being much more about my stepson. There was homework to help with, sporting events to attend, and after school arrangements to be made. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the family time, but I didn’t want to lose the “me” I was for the “us” I was becoming.

My husband coaches baseball and soccer, so even when my stepson didn't have a game, my husband's time was swallowed up quickly with phone calls to parents, field preparation, or scheduling umpires and referees. I would suggest an outing to a park or a store to find out that "we have practice from 1:00 to 4:00, but maybe after that."

Learning that my schedul…

DRAFT: Meeting a child

A lot of people must feel they have jumped head first into parenting.  To go from being a couple to being a full-fledged family in nine short months must be a great, yet terrifying, experience.



My family didn't come about that way.  My child was nearing 9 when I first met him.  He was already a thinking, functioning human being with a routine, friends, likes and dislikes, favorite foods, and a fiercely protective Nana.

Too Many Toasters

I am part of a stepfamily. Technically I guess I'm part of three stepfamilies. Whatever the case, merging families is a complex task involving the "blending" of three P's: people, personalities, and possessions.



When my husband and I took the gigantic step of moving in together, it was I that moved in to his home.  My one bedroom apartment wasn't going to fit all three P's and his house was two minutes from his 9-year-old son's school. Instant household.



We spent the following weeks taking inventory of our possessions. The extra bedroom set became guest room furniture. The extra glassware made for a well-rounded collection. The toasters, well, there were two and how many toasters does one house really need?



As I pulled my toaster from the box my (now) husband said, "I guess we can get rid of that."




What? Get rid of my toaster?



There's nothing like merging households to make you really sentimental about a toaster.  After all, it was the toaster I …

Photo Friday: Cypress Trees

For the past 20 years or so, every time I visit my uncle in Florida, he takes me out on his boat. We go to Lake Santa Fe which is comprised of a big lake adjoining a little lake (aptly named Little Lake Santa Fe), a bay, and an old, overgrown canal.

Being out on that lake, I feel like I am far away from everything. It is one of the few places that always feels carefree.

Lake Santa Fe is ringed by what I used to call "creepy trees" when I was younger. They look drippy, dark, and ominous, yet I always felt safe within their confines. They are Cypress trees and every last one of them is adorned in Spanish moss. I think they're wonderful.

I took this photo just as we were about to enter the big lake from the entrance passageway. It shows off the creepy trees beautifully. As luck would have it, I managed to capture one of the many fisherman who frequent Lake Santa Fe on his way in from what I hope was a fruitful outing. You can see him in the small break in the trees, wh…

Erma Bombeck's Advice on Loss of Identity

I'm reading Forever, Erma, a collection of Erma Bombeck's columns from throughout her career. One in particular caught my eye.

"Lost Identity" originally published September 18, 1965 in response to women asking Erma her opinion on how to find their lost identity. In the column she light-heartedly explains her own view of personal identity and how easy it is to feel question it when you are commonly referred to as so-and-so's wife or mother.

Erma discusses the difficulty housewives (remember, this was 1965) have in taking time for themselves to be their own person.

Her approach to resolving this for herself one day was this:



What I represent to other people isn't half as important as what I represent to myself. One day as I stood studying my reflection in the skillet lid, I plopped it down, went back to the bedroom, put my hair up in curlers and changed my dress. I put a dab of perfume behind each ear and returned to the kitchen. When asked where I was goin…

August Usability Newsletter is Live

Since this happened while I was traveling, I forgot to post a link here for anyone interested. The August edition of Usability Interface is live at http://www.stcsig.org/usability/newsletter/index.html.

Read my editorial to see how the Wreck This Journal book blogging experience helped me realize the importance of visual cues in web design. Who knew I'd get that out of fabulous, frivolous destruction!

There are also book reviews of Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior, Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (5th Edition) and Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories.

You can read about how to alleviate friction between software developers and users through user-friendly documentation and how to create strong navigation on a web site.

If usability or web design are your thing, check it out.

A Summer of Firsts

I didn't really get a chance to talk about it, so I'm taking the opportunity now. The summer of 2009 was a summer of firsts for me. Before it becomes too distant a memory, I thought I'd share some of my firsts:

Wrecked a journal- I'm sure you know that story by now. It was all part of Jamie Ridler's book blogging adventure. There were also many firsts within this single exercise like making online videos, rubbing a book in the dirt, or setting things on fire… on purpose.

Climbed and repelled- A brick wall, no less. Not even a goofy looking rock with handles that look like they were made from Play-doh. Granted the brick wall had bricks that stuck out especially for this purpose, but whatever- I climbed a brick wall.

Wrote a children's story- After my best friend mentioned that her daughter loves checking the mail to see if she got anything (usually the answer is no), I got the idea to write her a story and mail it out in parts.

Drew with pastels- It's pr…

Photo Friday: Sky Over Ocean

Last week hubby, stepson, and I whisked ourselves off on a last minute vacation. Booked only two weeks earlier, we spent part of our time away aboard a cruise to the Bahamas.

As luck would have it, we snagged the very last room with a balcony at a discounted last-minute rate. The view was spectacular. Between the three of us, we spent many hours out on the balcony.

Being out on the open water like that, you get the new perspective of an unspoiled view as far as you can see in any direction. There is absolutely nothing to disrupt the horizon. Imagine… a 180 degree view of nothing but ocean and sky.

One evening we were able to watch (and stay dry thanks to an overhang) as we approached, navigated through, then left a rain storm in our wake. It was fun to see the front half of the ship begin to bob atop a speckled, dancing ocean surface while we in the back of the ship continued smooth sailing on a glassy surface.

At other times, the sky gave quite a show of its own, marking clearl…

A Lot Can Happen in a Week

I left for a week and the world changed. You may be thinking "preposterous," but it's true. A lot of it has to do with the end of summer timing, I'm sure.

You see, summer was drawing to a close. My husband and I had planned on taking our kid on a family vacation this year and, as I'm sure is true for many people, life, finances, everything really made a vacation feel intangible.

A few weeks ago, we said, "Screw it! We're going on vacation." You only live once and my stepson won't be a kid forever. We booked a last minute vacation involving Universal Orlando, a cruise to the Bahamas, and a visit to my grandparents. We left about two weeks ago and came back on Labor Day weekend.

The sun was brutal when we left and certainly strong in Florida and the Caribbean. Upon our return, as we stepped out of the airport, however, it was brisk. Chilly even. I fished in my bag for a sweatshirt to protect myself against the gray skies and ominous win…

Photo Friday: Picnic table at a vineyard

There is a beautiful vineyard in Hopewell, New Jersey with amazing wine, nice people, and beautiful views. In fact, it was that vineyard where my husband, stepson, and I celebrated our family union with our friends and family last year.

I took this photograph at Hopewell Valley Vineyard when I visited recently. I thought this picnic table looked like the most delightful place to relax with some food and wine. Don't you agree?

Happy Friday!

[caption id="attachment_976" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Hopewell Valley Vineyard"][/caption]

Photo Friday: Ducks

Ducks. I really don't know if it's possible not to smile around ducks.

I remember feeding the ducks at a nearby lake with my parents when I was little. The simple act of tossing a few bread crumbs and watching the ducks flock over was pure joy.

Back in April I began to realize how many people had ducks- when my husband was little he had a pet duck named Football, Havi has Selma, David Copperfield had Webster. Then, of course, there was trucker Joe with his sidekick (sideduck?) Frank.

Today's photograph comes from a recent jaunt to New Hope, Pennsylvania where ducks were happily skimming the surface of a creek. This particular photo makes me think maybe they were racing.

A duck race. Now, that sounds like fun!

Happy Friday!

[caption id="attachment_971" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Duck race?"][/caption]

Photo Friday: Hot Air Balloon

Last weekend I ventured up to Readington, New Jersey for the Balloon Festival. Over 100 hot air balloons were launched in to the gray sky starting at 6:30 p.m.

Here is a photograph of one of the balloons in the final stages of being filled just before take off. I've posted some of my other photos from the Balloon Festival on Flickr if you're interested.

Happy Friday!

[caption id="attachment_966" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Almost ready to launch"][/caption]

Finally Back at the Gym

I did it. I went back to the gym.

Over the past year, I've been going very sporadically. An abs class here, a pilates class there. I even ran a nice pilates streak for a few weeks around mid-Spring. I had not, however, gone back to Power Flex (weights) or Kickboxing class in a long, long time.

You know how it is. Life gets hectic, the gym feels hard, and you think "not tonight, I'll start up again next week." Like that ever happens.

After being away from those classes for so long I was scared of not being able to keep up. I was scared of shaky legs like in the last Power Flex class I went to. I was scared of facing the regulars lest they scoff me for not being there.

Over the last few weeks I kept saying to myself "this is the week." And then I didn't go. The following week, I'd say the same thing. I even printed up the class calendar and highlighted the classes I thought would fit my schedule. And I didn't go.

Tonight I went. Desp…

Photo Friday: Rome Wedding

One year ago yesterday, my (now) husband and I exchanged vows in Rome. It was just the two of us, an officiant, the coordinator, and a couple we met on the trip to whom we handed our camera. It was quite simply perfect.

Today's Photo Friday is from that glorious evening in the Borghese Gardens.

Happy Friday!

[caption id="attachment_955" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="A perfect day in Rome"][/caption]

Wreck This Journal: Week 8

A lot of people in this Wreck This Journal book blogging group tackled the burning page early on. Since I waited, it felt almost a little boring so I just kept ignoring that page.

With the help of my husband and stepson, last night I ceremoniously burned the page. We even made another video. I have to give my husband loads of credit for his ideas on how to burn the page as well as his film directorship. I hope you like it.

Happy wrecking!







If you're confused as to what this Wreck This Journal stuff is all about or curious to see what other wrecking has transpired, here are some links to bring you up to speed.



Read Jamie's explanation of the Wreck This Journal book blogging group

Catch up on my earlier Wreck This Journal posts


Check out what other wreckers are doing - lots of fantastic stories, photos, and videos! Sign up and jump in if you're not already wrecking.

Photo Friday: Sunset

For this week's Photo Friday entry, I thought I'd share this amazing sunset from July 4th. This is another instance where I am happy to finally be capturing with my camera the color that I actually see in this world (no, there is no photo editing here).

What an amazing world we live in.

[caption id="attachment_942" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Sunset on the 4th of July"][/caption]

Happy Friday!

Wreck This Journal: Week 7

Two glorious forms of wrecking occurred this week in my journal. Both involved tearing pages out and putting pages in.

First, I laundered a page. I ripped it out, folded it up and tucked it in the pocket of a pair of shorts. One wash cycle and 45 minutes of dryer time later, I let my hubby recover the balled up (but clean) page.
[caption id="attachment_924" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Pulling the washed page out of a pocket"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_925" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Carefully opening the washed page"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_926" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The beautiful end result"][/caption]

Second, and even more glorious, I swapped pages with the delightful LaWendula in Germany. That's right, our pages crossed a good portion of the globe in just a few short days. Her page came to me on …

Slow Down - Why So Rushed?

I am a fast walker. In fact I rush a lot of the time.

I think it started when I was a little girl trying to keep pace with my dad. I practically had to run to keep up with his fast walking. It didn't help that he was 6' 4" tall and took long strides.

In high school I remember my friends asking me more than once why I was walking so fast as I zipped in and out of the mob to make it to my next class.

Recently it has been my husband and stepson that ask. My husband asked once, "why did you leave me? Can we walk together?"

On days when I work in New York I have to walk about 15 minutes from the train station to my office. I always speed walk there too, passing everyone in front of me.

Ditto for restroom breaks and going to pick up lunch. Why?

It's not just walking either. It's also eating fast, rushing through my mornings, anxiously shaking my leg while sitting still, ripping through my RSS reader.

Yesterday morning a song popped in to my head. It…

Photo Friday: Fireworks

I hope everyone in the states had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. Armed with some photography notes from my teacher, I headed to my local fireworks show. I'm happy with how they turned out. Much better than the dotted, smoky messes of years past.

Here is one of my fireworks photos. You can see some of the others in my 4th of July photos on Flickr if you are interested.

Happy Friday!

[caption id="attachment_911" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="4th of July fireworks"][/caption]

Wreck This Journal: Week 6

This week for Wreck This Journal, I overcame a fear. I made a video.

Lots of fellow wreckers paved the way for me by making videos that looked fun and not terribly scary. I generally don't like video cameras and find it hard to be myself around them, so this was a huge step.

This was completely spontaneous. One minute I was weeding my garden, the next I was scurrying through my house to gather up my computer and journal in the last few minutes of daylight.

I had a lot of fun making this video and I didn't even chicken out in posting it. Here it is. Enjoy!







Happy wrecking!

If you're confused as to what this Wreck This Journal stuff is all about or curious to see what other wrecking has transpired, here are some links to bring you up to speed.



Read Jamie's explanation of the Wreck This Journal book blogging group

Catch up on my earlier Wreck This Journal posts


Check out what other wreckers are doing - lots of fantastic stories, photos, and videos! Sign up and jump in …

Photo Friday: Sunset After Storm

The weather has been crazy over the past month on the east coast. Lots and lots of rain. Nearly everyday in fact.

Earlier this week a huge thunderstorm came through. Our power went out every few minutes, usually being restored within a minute or two each time. We lit candles. The animals hid. My husband, stepson, and I stayed close to one another.

The storm ended, but the ominous gray remained. When the sun broke through in time to set, the sky looked like it was on fire. Brilliant orange amidst billowing dark clouds.

I, of course, decided it was a swell time to practice my manual photography skills. Here is the view through our window.

Happy Friday! May your skies not look like this for the holiday weekend.

[caption id="attachment_897" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Sunset after a heavy thunderstorm"][/caption]

Wreck This Journal: Week 5

Another journal wrecking week is coming to a close. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, see the links at the end of this post.)

As I'm sure my fellow wreckers can attest, some weeks are more inspired than others. Last week, not so much. This week, inspired!

My stepson has been playing with a box of balloons this week. Those long, skinny balloons that are meant for being shaped into animals or hats.

My husband, being a giant kid himself, had the idea to make a water balloon with one. It was meant to be some kind of fancy water cannon with which he could inflict torture on my stepson (or possibly me).

Fortunately for us his idea evolved. While standing at the sink alternately filling a balloon and twisting, he asked if he could smash his water balloon in my journal.

My reply? "Heck yeah! I'll get the camera."

We flipped the book open to "scrub this page" and let loose.

I ended up with 67 photographs from what was probably two minutes …

Happy Joy Rebel Day!

Today is the very first Joy Rebel Day. Joy Rebel Day is being started by Ms. Joy Rebel herself, the lovely Brandi Reynolds. (Read her early announcement post to see what it's all about.)

[caption id="attachment_876" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A message of joy for passersby"][/caption]

I adore Brandi. She embodies true joy, finding it in places others might overlook.

One of the simple joys Brandi reminded me about is sidewalk chalk. So a few nights ago, when I spotted the bucket of sidewalk chalk sitting dusty in the garage, I knew my family was about to partake in a mini-adventure of sorts.

To start things off, I wrote a birthday greeting for my stepson who turned 12 on Monday.

[caption id="attachment_873" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A birthday wish in sidewalk chalk"][/caption]

Then I called him out to the driveway and things went crazy.

[caption id="attachment_874"…

My Non-Vacation

[caption id="attachment_868" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="My hammock"][/caption]

A strange thing happened to me on Saturday. I found myself on vacation.

I wasn't on a tropical island. I hadn't flown anywhere. No long drives. No crowds.

It all started when my husband and stepson left for baseball practice Saturday morning. With the house all to myself and the first sunshiny day in about three weeks, I planned out my morning. First weed the garden. Then work on my Week 2 exercises for Deb's Creative Pathways course.

So I set to work in my garden, pulling weeds, tilling dirt, and watering the plants. It started to get hot outside, but I wasn't ready to go in yet. I considered carrying one of the stiff chairs from my deck down to beneath the deck for a shady spot to rest. Then it dawned on me. We have a hammock.

I went to the basement, found the rolled-up hammock, carried it out, and hooked it up to two trees in m…

Photo Friday: Pink Fountain Gaura

As you may be aware by now, I have been taking a photography class to finally learn exactly what to do with all those settings on my DSLR camera. Between the exposure lecture and the next week's lab I wanted to practice.

As you may also be aware, it has rained a lot in the past month. That means I have a plethora of gray photographs. One day the sun peaked out for about 10 minutes so I dropped what I was doing and went to practice what I learned in my yard.

This week's Photo Friday shot is one of those practice shots. I photographed this Pink Fountain Gaura in the fully manual mode. The richness of the color and depth of field were exactly as I had hoped. (See it on Flickr for better quality.)

Happy Friday!

[caption id="attachment_861" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Pink Fountain Gaura in my yard"][/caption]

Nikon D40x
ISO 400
f/5.6
Shutter 1/1000

Wreck This Journal: Week 4

[caption id="attachment_852" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Cut through multiple pages to make fringe"][/caption]

After playing baseball with Wreck This Journal last Friday night, I have to admit I was at a loss for what to do next.

I was so proud of the idea and ecstatic that I got a great photo of it on my phone. It was a perfect act of joyous spontaneity. After all my piddly little wrecking exercises, I'd raised my personal bar quite high. I was no longer following the rules of destruction. I was actually wrecking.

Since I can't force spontaneity, this week I simply returned to the suggestions within the book. I'm sure another impromptu joyful wrecking will occur. At least I proved to myself that I could do it.

The next best thing seemed to be rising to Jamie's challenge of doing the thing we fear most. For me that's the food page. To ease myself in, I bit a grape in half and smeared it on the page. It's…

Latest Edition of Usability Interface is Live

The latest edition of Usability Interface is published at long last! As editor, I haven't yet hit the right rhythm of timing. What a learning process this has been!

With this being my third issue I think I now have an idea of how long on average each step takes. Perhaps that will help me with assembling a new timeline moving forward.

Anyhow, this issue talks to usability professionals about the value of words, gives an excerpt from the newly published 5th edition of Designing the User Interface, and explains why I leave my floss on the counter.

If any of this interests you, you can read the latest issue here: http://www.stcsig.org/usability/newsletter/index.html.

Reclaiming My Space (the space that is mine, not the social networking site)

[caption id="attachment_824" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="My bulletin board after the clean-up"][/caption]

My recent efforts to reclaim my time have also become activities in reclaiming my space.

Over the past two weeks I have reclaimed my deck, a path through the garage, and my bulletin board. Little things really. Each one, however, gave my soul a little boost.

My deck felt ugly and cramped. In a roughly 6x8' space, there were four chairs, an animal hideout, and a flower pot half-filled with soil growing weeds. It was cramped and made me think "ugh" every time I walked by the sliding glass door.

In one evening, I pushed all the chairs into an orderly fashion against the deck rails (cornering in the animal house to conceal it a bit) planted flowers in the pot, and added 5 more flower pots.

Now I walk by and think "pretty." It's on it's way to becoming a deck I love. It's still too small for b…

Finding My Creativity

I'm taking part in Deb Owen's Creative Pathways course. We just started a week ago and will be going for a total of 12 weeks to work on unleashing our creativity for whatever that means to each of us on this journey.

For me it means letting my creativity come out and play, to see what transpires. It's something that I have stifled over the years since working in web where I'm "supposed" to be a technical person.

It's a scary thing to call myself creative. Yes I graduated with an English degree. Yes I liked writing stories when I was younger. Yes I admire artists. But I tend not to think of myself as creative. I think of other people as creative. I think, "sure I do little semi-creative things here and there, but she's a real artist/writer/photographer/(fill in the blank)."

I have no problem looking at others as the real deal. Me, however, I'm just me. I guess it's true what they say about you being your own worst critic.

In D…

Taylor Swift Raps with T-Pain as T-Swizzle

On the CMT awards the other night the opening sequence was a discussion between Bill Engvall (one of my favorite comedians) and Taylor Swift (one of my favorite singers) about her dreams.

She dreamed of being in the new Star Trek movie so they showed a clip of her patched in to a scene. She dreamed of being an NFL player so they cut to a clip showing her in the Tennessee Titans locker room geared up getting into game mode with one of the players.

Then she said she wanted to be in a rap video with T-Pain. The result was this...







You can see the video in higher quality on CMT if you prefer. Wordpress won't let me embed that version.

Wreck This Journal: Week 3 (part 2)

Because this was too good to hold until next week... Wreck This Journal baseball style. That's my husband at bat. Talk about cracking the spine! It's mangled good now. And then I rubbed it in the infield dirt. Overcame the fear of getting it dirty. Woohoo!

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Read Wreck This Journal: Week 3 (the first part- where the I mailed the journal)

Photo Friday: From the Park and Marina

This was my fourth week of photography class and our second lab. We ventured off campus this time to shoot at a nearby park with a marina.

I'm finally learning how to manually work with the exposure settings. It's still kind of a slow thought process followed by some trial and error, but it's a vast improvement over the first lab.

It was another overcast foreboding evening. Fortunately the rain held off until after the photo shoot. Still, it made for more gray photos. I played with composition to work in color, played with distance and close-ups.

The final count was around 210 photographs that I shot in those two hours. I'm even happy with how many of them came out. (Plus, no all black photos this time!)

Here are a few of my favorites:

[caption id="attachment_812" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Bench by the lake"][/caption]

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Wreck This Journal: Week 3

First I want to thank all of the people who visited and commented my earlier WTJ posts! It is incredible to be in the company of so many amazing, witty, funny, wonderful people. Thank you so much for dropping by. Wreck on!

We are now entering week 3 of Wreck This Journal. The first two weeks have been a blast, as well as a learning process.

The first thing I did this week was mail my journal to myself. I took it to my office last Thursday with a heap of stamps. I taped it closed reveling in how glorious the track of destruction would be when I ripped it back off. I addressed it with a borrowed blue Sharpie then adhered a return address label.

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I asked the guy in the mail room to weigh the book and tell me how much the postage would be. He paused. I'm not sure if it was because I handed him a book that was taped shut or if it was because he no…