Saturday, October 25, 2014

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop - Christmas colors

Hi friends,

I decided to play along with the papertrey ink blog hop.    The challenge was to use unique color combinations.

The color combination I chose to work with is Hawaiin shores, new leaf, rasberry fizz and pure poppy.

I may try this color combination again.  It still convey's Christmas but with a modern twist.

I'm off to my daughter's house for a Scentsy party and then we'll walk around historic Salem MA for the afternoon.  I've never been to Salem in the fall but I've heard it's quite interesting.  Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hedgehog Wedding Card

Hello friends,

So over the weekend my daughter Sarah asked me to make a wedding card for her friend's wedding in early November.  As I sat at my craft desk last night I realized I knew absolutely nothing about her friend so called to get an idea of her personality to make a custom card for their celebration.  Sarah then tells me that this couple adores Hedgehogs.  Go figure.   Both of them!  Who knew?  So I vaguely remember getting forest friend stamps from DeNami last spring and wondered....  did I have a Hedgehog stamp?  I was so excited to find it!

I figured that Karen Giron would have a great sketch for me to use (she did) so I got busy and voila... a Hedgehog Wedding Card!

Since it's a special card I decided to make a coordinating envelope as well.  You might not be able to see but the Hedgehogs bellies have flocking to reflect fur and the aqua heart above is filled with glitter!

Below is a link to Karen's blog and a copy of her sketch.

So speaking of  'Mr. and Mrs.' I had a funny 'mother-daughter' conversation with Sarah when she was here.  She's married almost 9 months now and it's fun to talk 'married' things with her.  While they were visiting Sunday, she and I were upstairs looking for something and the men were downstairs. 

We could hear their conversation as we were rummaging in the closet and Sarah all of a sudden says 'Again??! - He told that story last night and now he's telling it again!'  She expressed that she's now heard this story over 4 times between when he told her and all the times they've been together when he's shared the story.  She even says 'its not that interesting a story!'  I laughed.  I said 'welcome to married life.'  She said 'what do I do?'  and I said 'well, most of us start to tune it out, that's why married people have such trouble communicating - because they get really good at tuning the spouse out - especially when they think they've heard it before.'  I told my co-worker and she said 'she's lucky - at least her husband isn't telling her the same story 4 times.  I guess for my co-worker this happens often in her marriage.'

It's a small price to pay.. but I'm curious.... How do you handle the 'husband telling the same story?'

Thanks for visiting today.  Make it a great day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I'm so grateful for you

Gratefulness is a wonderful thing.  I desire to be more mindful of gratefulness in everything I do, but often we just get so busy we forget to be grateful.

It seems appropriate to title my blog entry this since Fall is upon us and Thanksgiving is a few short weeks away, but the card I'm showing you really has nothing to do with the Thanksgiving holiday.

But I wanted to share it with for several reasons.

First, it's a pretty card. I hope you like it.  I hope you comment on my blog and tell me how pretty it is.  We all love a little pat on the back every now and again.

Second, it's a true sentiment for some very special people.  I made a dozen of these to send to the people I work with who helped me in the various regions I traveled to this summer to conduct training.  In all my rants about my summer travel, I don't think I ever told you how sweet and gracious my hosts were.  For every city I went to this summer to train in, I had a familiar and friendly face there who helped with the training logistics and worked tirelessly with me to ensure the people we were training really learned the system so they are ready for the changes.  They were all FABULOUS and I want to acknowledge that.  Sadly, our company is on tight expenses so all these people get is a card, but sometimes when times are tight and thank you gifts can't be sent, the card is all the more meaningful.  I hope so.  I wish I could have tucked a $25.00 Starbucks card into each one!

Third, I hope you are inspired to be more grateful for the blessings in your life and in your day today.  I also hope you are inspired to tell someone that you are grateful for them.  Maybe my little blog can inspire you to say something you've been meaning to say for a while.  I hope if nothing else it inspires me to say this more often to the people in my life who make my life wonderful (and even when my life isn't wonderful, when they make a bad day - less bad!)

So here is a sample of one of the 12 cards.  They are going in the mail on Monday.

Thanks for visiting my blog today!  Make it a great day!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What do you do with your cards?

Hi all,

The obvious answer to the above question is 'send them to people.'  But do you fall into the same trap as I do?  It may take me an hour (or more) to make a card.  And then after it's made, I find I don't have the 10 minutes it takes to write the note inside, get the envelope, write out the address, put a stamp on it and actually mail it.

This year has been the worst.  I've made oh so many cards intended for people only to have them hanging around my card inventory.

I MUST learn to finish strong and not abandon the effort 2/3rds of the way through!

And today is the day to follow-through!

The card below was made for my mom.  She and her husband have been living in Europe since July. They have property in France and England and took a few months to live there.  In July and August they were enjoying sunshine in France.  Later in August they went to U.K. and have been there since.

My mother loves real mail and kindly requested we stay in touch that way.  She's sent me several letters and postcards.  Moi?  I send e-mails pretty regularly but as for the real mail - not so much.  I sent one postcard from Germany and nothing else.  But this card, yes, this card - IS going to make it in the mail.  I just know it.

As for the notes and e-mails she's been sending me, well, we are just amazed at how much energy, adventure and flexibility she has.  My mom is 77 years old, but you'd never know it to see her pictures or hear her stories.

One e-mail we got from her had the following words all in the same paragraph 'no hotels', 'asked a farmer to sleep in his pasture', 'glad the tent was waterproof' '5am', 'mama pig and her piglets' and 'mice and rats' and 'enjoying ourselves.'

Can you believe it?  If my paragraph had two of those phrases in it, it would also have the phrase 'get me the HECK out of here and NOW!'  She isn't phased by any of it.  

She seems to really be enjoying the time there.  They have friends and family that live in Europe so they've enjoyed visiting them (and having them visit at their place.)  She is making jam and gin (yes, gin), painting, making music and trying to stay warm.  France was beautiful in the summer, but once they got to U.K. they found cooler, damper weather.

I think they will be staying in their property in U.K. until late November.  Then they will go back to France to harvest olives from their olive farm before heading home (to Maine) in time for Christmas.

The property they own in U.K. is a small 4 room row-house with a thatched roof.

Below is an example of the kind of place they have.

And here is my mom enjoying the beautiful English countryside.

Well, I need to go and get that envelope and stamp and ACTUALLY MAIL THIS CARD!   Oh and do you recognize this sketch?  this too is using Karen Giron's Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge!

Karen Giron

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Make it a great day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Purple Bunny card and Blog transparancy

Hi friends,

Some of you have told me recently that you were surprised at my post 'the big mad.'  It seems I was quite transparent in that blog post and those of you that care about me are concerned I may have 'over-shared' on my blog.

Well, you may be right.  I follow several blogs and only a few of them are transparent, real and vulnerable like I am on my blog.  Is it risky?  Probably.  After all, what I say here is visible to anyone and everyone.  Do I think I should change?  No, and here is why.

First - I think the on-line world is not very real, not very transparent and providing false realities.  I think you know what I mean here.  After all, who ever posts a pinterest picture of a failed recipe? Who goes on facebook and shares a photo of a time when they felt fat and ugly?  For most everyone the on-line world is a way to only tell partial truths, to show only the good side and only the final photo's of the perfected thing (yoga pose, craft or recipe.)  For me, my on-line profile matches who I am.  I bet if I were to meet someone who only knew me from my on-line blog and facebook they would pretty much say 'yup - no surprise there - that's who she is.'  And I'm proud of that.  And I'm not going to change and only show the good side, the pretty side, the perfected side.  There's plenty of that and I think for many, there is a deep desire to see some real world in blog land.

Second - Many people write.  They write books, they write newspaper articles.  People have written for centuries and very often what they write about is what they know.  Biographies are huge best sellers.  People write about (and read about) real people all the time.  For anyone who agreed to have a biography written about them, their stories are available to anyone and everyone.  The best biographies tell the truth, and share lots of information about the person.  I agree that my blog posts are available to anyone and everyone but I treat it like I would a magazine article, newspaper article or biography - I'm okay with my stories being out there.  In the same way that many before me have  been okay with their stories being out there in print.

Third - While that blog post may have seemed like over-sharing to you, those who know me, probably aren't surprised that everything I said in that blog post I said to my boss - face to face.  Frankly I was much kinder, gentler and nicer in my blog post than that day in September when I had steam coming out my ears and talked to him in his office.  Trust me folks, I wouldn't share something on my blog that would be a huge surprise to my husband, boss, children or friends.  And as for the thought - well,  if you wanted to get a new job, people would read that and it would ruin your chances for that job.  Well, that's an interesting thought too.  I would welcome any future employer to read my blog.  At 50+ years old, I am what I am.  If an employer thinks I am not a good fit for their company because: 1)  I was trying hard to meet several deadlines, 2) working 13 hour days 3) got mad 4) confronted the person I was angry and based on that, they thought that would make me a bad employee - well I wouldn't want to work for them!

So, thank you for your concern.  And I truly respect your options to keep your life off the on-line media world.  And if you only want to show 'your best side on-line' that's fine with me too.  But as for me, I'm going to keep it real on my blog.

Vulnerability is the new strength.  Transparency is the key to real relationship.  And if you don't believe me, start reading the trendy leaders.  Have you heard of Brene Brown?  You must check her stuff out.   She became famous over-night for an 'over-sharing' TED talk.  It went viral.  She is a great leader and has mountains of research on vulnerability and shame.  And she is breaking ground world-wide in helping people perform better, connect better and live better.

Brene Brown Ted Talk

Check her out.  Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Make it a great day.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I love fall

Hi all,

I know you know that I love fall.  I say it all the time.  But the reason my blog post title is 'I love fall' today is because I used the stamp set 'I love fall' from lawn fawn to make this darling little clean and simple fall card.

I followed Karen Giron's 'sweet sunday sketch challenge' for this one.  I turned her sketch upside down and colored up this adorable fox and placed him in a pile of leaves.  Isn't he sweet?

Above is the sketch and below is the link to Karen's website.

So fall is in full swing here in New England.  The days are shorter, the mornings and nights are colder and the leaves are all beautiful as they change color.  I took the dogs to the nearby park and with the late afternoon sun, some of the trees were just stunning.

It's not peak yet, but as you can see from the above photo's it's getting there.  About one more week and even those green leaves on these trees will change.  I feel so blessed to have such beautiful green spaces all around me.  Even though we live in the city, Boston is a VERY green city and there are beautiful parks like this all around us.  The park was full of families, couples, singles and dogs!

One of the things we love to do in the fall is go apple picking.  My dear husband has very fond memories of going apple picking with his family in upstate NY.  He loves apple cider donuts and coming home with a 1/2 bushel of crisp apples.  He knows that with all those apples in the house, something yummy will soon come!

The macintosh and cortland varieties (that are my favorite) and ready to pick in September.  Below are pictures of a trip to 'Breezeland Orchards' from a few weeks ago.

We got to the farm around 11:00am and they had just opened up a new section for the 'u pick' so we had no trouble filling our bag with beautiful apples.  The only unfortunate thing about the day was that we had planned to go apple picking first and then go to the Big E fair.  By the time we got to Springfield, the traffic was horrific.  We drove around in the traffic for 45 minutes before we gave up and said 'it's not worth it.'  We had a nice lunch and headed home thankful we have a bushel of apples to show for our efforts.  Next year, if we plan to go to the fair, we will go to the fair first, then apple picking!  I guess everyone goes to the fair at 1:30!

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Make it a great day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Butterfly Strength Card and 'the big mad'

Hi friends,

I love making encouragement cards using my Papertrey Ink sentiment stamp set that has inspiring scriptures.  This one is quite pretty as a clean and simple card using Papertrey inks butterfly stamp. These are great cards to just 'have around' because sometimes you just have an occasion to send one. This is a great sympathy card and a good get well soon card.    I usually find I need one of these on a weekday and don't have time to make one from scratch.  A great reason to build up card inventory when the time allows.

So besides sharing this pretty card creation I thought I would tell you about a situation that happened late this summer that I'm calling 'the big mad.'   At first I called it 'the big fight' but I realized that's not the right title.  It really was just a situation where I got really, really mad.  The set up for 'the big mad' is probably easily reproducible.  If I wanted to share a recipe for a 'big mad' these ingredients would be great to ensure a really, really big mad.

1) Exhaustion
2) Feelings of under-appreciation
3) Pride
4) Mis-communication

So for my 'big mad' I started with a very healthy dose of exhausted.  The day of my 'big mad' started with me going to bed at midnight and waking up at 4am.  Why so little sleep?  Well, I had just arrived in Munich Germany and had a very challenging work agenda.  So between jetlag, sleeping in a strange bed and having a lot of work issues on my mind - a full nights sleep wasn't really an option.

Ingredient 1 - Not enough sleep.

So the other thing I added to get a great exhaustion going (think ragu - a base ingredient that requires several steps to make) was a 13 hour work day.  I had woken at 4am that day and immediately started working.  Now you may say 'Linda - that's just stupid - why would you start working at 4am?'  Well, you are right, however, at 4am German time, it was 8pm California time where my boss was and he was shooting off critical e-mails to me.  Also, I had lost my cell phone so my only connection to home and family and people I care about - was through my work computer - so I naturally logged in and couldn't help but open my work e-mail while it was open.  And lastly, I had some pre-work to do to prepare for the 8:30 am training start.  Now here again, you are probably saying - 'why would you procrastinate doing training prep until the day of training?'  Here is why.  They had a 'code drop' the day before.  A code drop means they 'fixed some of the existing bugs' so to ensure a more successful training it was way better for the learners to have 'fresh' practice deals in the system without bugs so as a courtesy to them I wanted to recreate their practice exercises with the new code drop.  Did I have to do that - no - but these learners are people I've known for years and I care about them and I want their learning environment to be the best it can be.  So I started working at 4:00am.  I worked from 4am-7:00am, then took a break from 7-8 to eat breakfast and shower and then down to training at 8:15.  Training from 8:30-5:00, then working on my bosses new 'hot topic' from 5-6:15, dinner from 6:30-8:00 and then working again from 8-9:30.  Note - the BIG MAD happened around 10:00pm.

Ingredient 2 - a 14 hour work day that was not over yet.

Again, you may say 'why after a 13 hour work day would you come back from dinner and work AGAIN?'   In hindsight - I never should have booted up my laptop, but again let me explain my motivation.  My boss had sent me an e-mail that I read at 4am.  I worked on his new 'hot issue' with the manager of the EU quote center from 5-6:15pm and frankly I felt if I didn't write up the results of the discussion with the EU manager the next day I would forget.  Keep in mind I still had another training day the next morning (at 8:30) and again, I had some prep to do when I returned from dinner and thought I'll send my boss the e-mail, finish up some training prep and THEN be able to sleep like a baby and be ready for the next days training.  And just to be clear on the bosses 'hot topic' I was feeling very prideful about this.  You see I understood the issue better than anyone else on the team and I was going to be able to get to the bottom of the issue and hash it out with the EU team and be a HERO to the entire team.  Now again, don't judge me too harshly.  Yes, there was a lot of arrogance and pride going on there, but my motivations really were sound.  You see to 'fix' the issue the way my boss originally thought it had to be done would have meant a weeks worth of overtime for the tech team (4 great guys and gals who I care about deeply.)  It would have meant they worked really, really hard on something that in mind, didn't need to be done.  They would have been asked to work weekends, the project go-live date may have had to be pushed out and it would have added a lot of work to the entire team.  And I had (after my discussion with the EU team) clarified that the issue wasn't that big an issue and did not need to be solved the way my boss originally thought.  Are you seeing the potential for a BIG MAD here?  You should.

So ingredient 3 - a very healthy dose of arrogance and pride.  I can fix this.  I can save the team.  I can save the project.  Dun dun done!  Linda the hero.  Linda to the rescue!  Applause.  Praise.  Promotion.  Bonus!

So Linda the Martyr, Linda the hero, spent 45 minutes drafting a very excellent e-mail explaining to the entire team, the issue, my recommendation for the solution and the results of my discussion with the EU manager.  I hit send and then proceeded to work on my 'other work' to prepare for training.    Imagine my surprise when my boss replies (quite quickly I might add) with a whole bunch of questions and additional action items on my brilliant solution.  I read things like 'this is interesting but, what about X, and what about Y... how will this work in NA?  Did EU agree this change will be the best solution?  And then the true 'straw that broke the camels back' statement - please reach out to the Asia and Japan teams and do the same analysis with them tonight.  EU and AP/GC overlap timezones, so please set up phone calls with them tonight or early morning to review this proposal with them, get their buy in and oh by the way, please clarify my concerns ASAP.

So ingredient 4 - a request for a whole lot of additional work to be done by me in the next 24 hours when I have no free time what-so-ever to do anything except prepare for and conduct training for 10 users.

Can you guess what those 4 ingredients made?  If you guessed a big mad flambe - you are right.

I was LIVID.  I was FURIOUS.  I was EXHAUSTED.  I wanted to scream.  I wanted to cry.  I was shaking I was so frustrated and tired and exhausted.   So I replied back via e-mail (reply all - 4 team members and dripping with sarcasm) NO.  I am not contacting Asia.  No.  I am not contacting Japan. No.  I am not justifying my excellent idea.  I am going to bed and I'm going to conduct training tomorrow.  And I wanted to also state 'Do Not Ask Me to help with this issue again.  Ever.'  But I didn't.  I wisely just said 'no' turned off my computer, took a shower and tried to sleep.  As you can imagine I did not 'sleep like a baby' like I originally hoped, but slept enough.

The next day I saw some of the e-mails from the team.  One of my team-mates actually thanked me for pushing back on the workload.  The project has caused all of us to work a lot and he too was feeling the strain.  My boss came back with something like 'um after I read this a little further, I can see why you felt that request was over the top - sorry.'   That helped a little, but the next morning I was still really, really mad.  I told my fellow training partner - 'he's lucky I showed up for work today'  'What would he have done if I just 'called in sick.''  This was especially relevant since on this training day my partner was only there till 10:00am since she had to take a flight back to the US for a family thing (this was on Thursday and just prior to Labor Day Weekend.)  If I had 'not shown up' - training would not have happened.  Now let me be clear folks.  I would NEVER have called in sick for work in a situation like this.  But the thought did cross my mind, only in the most prideful way.  What would my boss do without ME!

Can you believe that I stayed mad for over 2 weeks?  All the built up frustrations on the project piled on.  All the areas where I had disagreed with the team piled on.  All the feelings of under appreciation piled on.  And the jet lagged was still there and I was resenting the fact that for the summer, I had been away working my butt off for 4 of the 8 best weeks of summer.  Yup.  I held onto that 'big mad' for a good long time.

My boss was actually great.  He said in an e-mail on Friday - 'let's talk next week.'  Monday was the holiday and Tuesday he met with me and let me vent on quite a few of the things I was frustrated about.  He listened.  He apologized.  And yet, I held onto that mad for another whole week.  The jet lag was still with me and the pride was still bubbling over.

Thankfully I asked my church friends to pray for me.  I also starting to put things in perspective.  I am not the first person in the world to be over-worked and under-appreciated.  And I got back into reading my bible devotions and doing yoga.  When I stopped the frantic work pace and started eating healthier, being more active and counting my blessings, thankfully the big mad just slowly started to dissolve away.

Now it's just a story I can blog about and hopefully, if I'm emotionally mature, I can learn from this and be sure to never let those ingredients pile up in a day so the recipe creates the desired results.

Oh and for the record (sorry - this probably still reeks of stinkin pride) the 'hot issue' is being resolved with a very simplistic solution and NOT the big 'weeks and weeks of tech team work' my boss originally thought was needed.  So my bid mad and extra work was not for naught.  It did ultimately result in a solution that works for all, but if I had to do it over again, I would do it very differently.  I hate being 'really, really mad!'

So how about you?  Have you ever had a 'big mad?'  What helped you get out of the funk?  What do you do to make sure you don't find the ingredients all coming together to make it?