Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Car!

Hi friends,

Today I am going to get my new car.  I'm very excited.

Before I tell you about my new car, let me show you my baby card creation.


I typically don't buy a new car.  Here I am 50 years old and this is my third new car in my life.    I usually get a low mileage used car, but this time I got a great deal on last years model so I am getting brand new this time.  Yeah!

You may be wondering - why are you getting a new car in late November?  Well, there is a very good reason for this.

Do you remember 'Cash for clunkers' back in 2009?  Well in 2009 we had an old Chrysler Town and Country mini-van that got 17 miles to the gallon.  It was old and we really didn't need a mini-van at that point of our life anymore.  Sarah was a junior in college and Eric was driving so we decided to trade in the 'clunker' for a new car.  Our car made us eligible for a $4,500 credit so we got the new car for about $8,000.00.  We made a deal with Sarah where we would make the first two years of payments on the car and she would make the last two years of payments.  Pretty nice deal for Sarah. So Sarah got a cute little Nissan Sentra.

When she decided to head off to the peace corps she really wanted to keep her Nissan.  It was only 2 years old and in great condition and she really liked it.  So we decided that I would sell my Volkswagon and drive her Nissan Sentra for 2 years, then we'd sell it to her at the end of her time overseas for the fair market value.

Well, the two years are up, Sarah is heading home in Mid-December soooo, Mom gets a new car!!!

I had a funny experience while shopping.  I did lots of on-line shopping using Cars.com and found a dealership that had a ton of inventory on the Mazda3.  I randomly picked one of the cars they had in stock and sent an e-mail inquiry on it.    So I make an appointment at the dealer to see the car and headed into Quincy (40 minutes away) to check out the car.  I arrive at the dealership on a rainy day and go inside and meet young Stu.  He was a nice kid, barely 24 and new on the job.  He says we have your car you want to try right out front.  It's a manual transmission, Do you know how to drive a stick shift?  Well, that was an easy answer, yes - I do know how to drive a stick.  So he says so are you ready for the test drive?  And without thinking too much, I say 'sure.'  Well, what he didn't ask me was when the last time it was that I drove a stick shift and now that I think about it, it was 25 years ago!

So, I get into the drivers seat and try to familiarize myself with the logistics of a manual transmission.   Like riding a bike right?  Only did I mention it was raining and I was in a city I've never been to before, in a brand new car I've never driven before?  Well, Stu was a fun guy.  We only stalled twice and it was only a bit hairy when the Quincy police car was behind me, but again, we survived.  I like to think I am keeping my brain cells young trying new things.

I loved the car and made my dear husband go back to the dealership the next day to look (and drive) the automatic version.  They had quite a few 2013's in stock and therefore had some really good prices so we bought the car and today I get to pick it up.


Thanks for visiting today. I hope you have a great day.
I think I'm going to love it.  It has all the bells and whistles - blue tooth - heated leather seats - moon roof.  I hope I like it because I'll probably drive it for 6 plus years!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - DeNami Thanksgiving card

Hi friends,

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I made this fun DeNami card yesterday (while the pies were baking in the oven) and I'll bring it to Bob's aunt Joanie (along with a thank you gift) since she's hosting our Thanksgiving meal this year.

I had fun combining the polka dot stamp with my polka dot washi tape.  I don't know about you, but I always forget about washi tape.  It's such a fun and easy thing to use on a card, but even though it's in a clear jar on my crafting desk, it's very rare that I think to use it!

So, Bob, Eric and I were going to participate in a Turkey Trot this year, but decided to not go.  Eric's flight was delayed on Tuesday night and he didn't get in till 2:00am.  Thankfully he arrived safe and sound, but quite tired.  The weather is bitter cold today (low 20's with a strong wind) and frankly we all just decided we'd rather sleep a little late and not be rushed heading out to his families.

What will I do instead?  Well, they are having a Zumba class at my gym at 9:00am.  I'll go to that, get all sweaty and tired.  Then head home to clean up and hit the road. I'll probably get a better work out in my hour long zumba class than running a 5k race.  Maybe we'll do it next year.  I really enjoyed doing the race last year, but it just did not seem to the right thing this year.

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving.  Stop back on Monday for the start of my '12 blogs of Christmas' series.  I may have some other things to show you this weekend too!  Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Cards for World Vision Kids

Hi friends,

One of the things our family does (that I absolutely LOVE doing) is we sponsor children in Africa and Haiti through the World Vision Child Sponsor program.

Our first 'adoption' was part of a church program in 2004 (almost 10 years ago!)  At that time, we adopted Grenala and she was the same age as Eric.  Since then we've added Dieugot, Emily, Louvensky, Angela, Isaack and just last month we 'adopted' Shakira.  I would love to add a new child every year and plan to do whatever I can to keep the budget in effect so we can do this.  Well, at least until we have 10 world vision kids.  At that point we'd be budgeting $350.00 a month to child sponsorship and unless Bob or I come into a big raise or job promotion, we may have to cap it to that level, but who knows.  We have a few more years before we reached the 10 child level so we'll deal with it then.

So why am I telling you this?  Well, because my card today is a card that I will send to each of my world vision children.  Yes, I have to get busy - I have 6 more to make, but luckily, in Africa, it is not especially important that my Christmas card arrive before Dec 25th.
If you zoom in on the picture you can see that the sheep are fuzzy.  I had some fun with flower soft and hope the fuzz is still intact when the cards arrive at their destination.  There is something so fun about a card with texture!!!

This card uses Karen Giron's Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge layout.  I love her sketches and really have fun playing along and linking up to her blog. Check out her blog by clicking the link.

Karen Giron's Blog

Below is her sketch.


I struggle to know what to make for my world vision kids Christmas cards because especially in Africa, the traditional stamping images for Christmas probably wouldn't make a lot of sense.  They don't do Christmas trees or wreaths.  They don't know about Santa and the elves and they don't get toys and gifts for Christmas.  My understanding (from my limited google research) is that Christmas in Africa would include church, singing, dancing and a family dinner.  So I try to keep to the christian themes of Christmas for them by using manger scenes with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the star of Bethlehem and animals.  I generally write a standard letter to all of them sharing news from our family and America and I try to include fruit leather, a bandana or stickers in the envelope.  World Vision doesn't allow gifts, just small things that fit in a 6X9 envelope.

World Vision is such a great organization, I can't recommend them enough.  They have so many ways to get involved in global poverty and we've participated in several of their programs.   First, one of their largest programs is child sponsorship in many different countries.  Our children are from Malawi (one of the poorist countries in the world - in central Africa) and Haiti.  They have programs in eastern Europe, all over the carribean, Africa and many other places.   It costs $35.00 per month to sponsor a child.  For those who can't make a monthly commitment (or who prefer to contribute in a different way) they have the world vision gift catalog.  Here in the gift catalog, you can select an item (a farm animal, school supplies, soccer ball etc) and just do a one-time donation for that item to go to a family or individual.  Some items are really big (like a water buffalo or a deep well) and some are small (like a mosquito net or blanket.)  It looks like they have also started doing the micro loans too.  So many ways to help.

We have been involved in world vision for over 10 years and they have proved trustworthy with our donations all along.  I believe they are very highly rated as a charitable organization - Bill Gates listed him as one of the charities to support in his Giving Tuesday tweets a few weeks ago.  If you are looking for a way to address the issues of global poverty and/or give back to others, I highly recommend you check out the organization by clicking the link below.

World Vision

Below is a photo of my 'fridge photo collage.'  Each of our sponsored children are on there and I see their beautiful faces every time I open the fridge (which is OFTEN!)


Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. I hope you have a great day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas in the city

Hi friends,

When I saw Dawn McVey's card using Papertrey Ink's City Christmas stamps and dies, I fell in love.  I shamelessly copied her design for my christmas card this year and only changed the colors and removed a few elements.  With everything going on this year for Christmas and given that I'm starting so late, I figured I didn't have time to play around with a design so I hit the easy button.

Isn't this card darling?


I love it and think it's perfect to celebrate our first christmas living in the city.   So above is my version of the card.  Below is Dawn's.  As you can see they are VERY similar, of course Dawn's is perfect in every way and mine has all the lovely elements of handmade with love.   Thanks for the inspiration Dawn.

And speaking of city living, I realized I never updated my blog with pictures of the condo now that the window treatments are up and the paint on the wall.  Want to see?  

One thing I love about the condo is how the light comes in from the windows.  Oh and I love the gas fireplace.  I just hit the on button and instant heat and fire!  I do miss a roaring wood fire, but given the size of the space, this is perfect.

Above is a close-up of the window treatments.  These are roman shades that go up and down.  We tend to leave them in the same position.
Tank loves to 'perch' on top of the couch with a good view of the whole room (and all the windows.)

These wood stairs are gorgeous, but can be a little slippery (reference the previous blog entry about Joey falling down the stairs.)  I may have to get something on the steps to prevent future injuries.

Joey loves to sit in the sun. Can you blame him?

We are so glad we kept the wood dining table.  There was a bit of debate over which table we would keep from the old house. I love the wood and having the 'big' table in the room.
Tank loves sitting in the sun also.
We love it.  We are getting more comfortable every day and it really feels like home now.  Soon chaos will reign as my two adult children come to live with us for a month - plus my new son-in-law, but it's 2,200 square feet with three bedrooms so hopefully we'll all fit.

Thanks for visiting today.  Stop back later this week for some other Christmas cards and starting December 1st, I hope to do my 12 blogs of Christmas theme (a blog every other day about some conversation topic related to Christmas.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Multiplied!!!

Hi friends,

I have awesome news to share with you.  My future son in law had his interview with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev ukraine today and his fiance visa was approved.  We are all so excited!!

We can't wait to have them arrive in the US in a few weeks to begin their american life together. Who knew that when we sent one child off 2 years ago, we would have 2 children return? We are so excited to welcome a son into our family. And actually, who knew? well I knew.. kind of. Like all good government organizations, the peace corps has lots of propeganda, literature for would be peace corps volunteers and their families. Do you know the one thing I read in that information that stuck with me more than anything else? The statistic they published that said '85% of peace corps volunteers meet the person they will marry during their peace corps service.' So, I can't say I'm totatally surprised to see Sarah return with a fiance.

So what's next? Well, Ivan will receive the visa from a special courier, hopefully within a week. Then he'll have to pack all his belongings to fit in 2 suitcases (weighing less than 50 pounds each), say goodbye to his brothers, mother and friends and board a flight (with his sweetheart) to NYC. There I'll greet them both and drive them to their new home (our darling condo.) Hopefully he will survive the culture shock of American Christmas and find work quickly. They will go through some pre-marital counseling at church and then have their first wedding in January. I say 'their first wedding' because they will have two weddings. The first will be teeny-tiny - just Bob and I, the pastor and them. This will marry them and satisfy the legal requirement to wed within 90 days of arriving in the US. It will also enable them to have marital relations in our home! The second wedding will be the white dress event in early June. Like many before them, they'll have two special anniversary dates to commenorate.

So, all of us are very, very relieved that this critical step in the process is behind us. You can imagine how anxious Sarah and Ivan were for this interview. There was nothing that SHOULD have caused an issue, but we all know how it can go.... something unforeseen... some little detail or glitch that hadn't been anticipated, suddenly crops up at the last minute and everything is put on hold. We all worked very hard to check/double check and review all the documents to ensure it was complete and accurate to avoid any unnecessary delays. The only thing I can relate it to is taking a drivers test. you can be an awesome driver, but sometimes something goes wrong during the test and if one thing is done wrong - the test is failed and you are back in line, waiting... waiting..... So check back in with me in 3 weeks for a blog post about their arrival. I'm sure I'll have photos from JFK airport of two tired young people ready for their new life together!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Scammed!!

Hi friends,

So, do any of you have adult children?  My youngest son is 20 and I had a challenge this fall trying to stay out some of his stuff.  So before I get to the story, let me share a card with you.  I had two friends from church have surgery recently and I wanted to let them know I was thinking of them as they recover.  I made two identical cards and dropped them in the mail this week.

I inked up Papertrey Ink's 'on the couch' set and had fun playing with lime green.

Isn't this so fun?  I hope it brightens their day.

So on to my story.  When Eric graduated high school he did all kinds of research to decide which laptop he would get.  He decided upon a Hewlett Packard and headed off to Engineering school with a fine new computer.  Well, there was an accident and the original laptop was shot.  Let's just say that there was some horsing around in a dorm room and a bunk bed railing found it's way into the LCD display and it stopped working.  Thankfully HP has a generous extended warranty program and Eric was given a replacement laptop under the warranty. Note - if any of you have college students - ALWAYS buy the extended warranty.  Both Sarah and Eric got replacement laptops while in college.  College students are HARD on those machines and it's worth the investment.  Okay back to the story.  Well I don't know why but Eric never liked his replacement laptop.  He complained a lot about it and drove us all crazy with his whining..... it's so slow.... it's not as good as my original....   So when his birthday rolled around this year he asked for money toward a new laptop.  We were happy to help him with that.  He figured he could sell his old laptop (which was really only 6 months old) and use some of the money to help pay for the new mac.  Sounded good to me.  The first mistake he made was thinking that his 6 month old laptop was worth a  lot of money.  Sadly, in the world of electronics, these things get devalued very fast.  He estimated it was worth 550.00.  I told him I would buy it from him for $250.00 if he couldn't sell it for what he thought it was worth.  He accessed this and decided to go ahead and get the mac.  So on his birthday weekend he had a nice Mac computer and began the process of selling the old one.

I really wanted to jump in and help him out.  I have sold a bunch of stuff on crags list and ebay and while I'm no expert, I'm not a newbie but he was in South Carolina and I was in MA, so I stayed out of it and only offered advice when he asked.  I would have had him bring it home on Fall Break and I would list it on craig's list or ebay, but he wanted to do it himself and again since he thought it was worth more than I did, I figured it would be better to let him handle the deal himself.

So, a few weeks ago, he tells me he put it on ebay with a buy it now price of $550.00 and some guy bought it.  Then the fun began.  The guy texts him and tells him to ship it to South Africa.  The guy was willing to pay him an extra $60.00 in shipping fees and that the computer was for his son.  Both Eric and I were on alert.  There were a number of things that seemed fishy.  For one, the guy couldn't pay via paypal on ebay.  Eric had not set up the listing correctly.  Then the guy wants to ship it overseas.  I was pretty concerned the deal was risky but both Eric and I wanted to believe the buyer was honest.  I sent him info about ebay scams and warned him not to ship to an address that is not verified on paypal.    I also said 'be sure to get a signature upon delivery' and get a tracking number.  He calls ebay and discusses the situation with them on two occasions and they assure him the deal is fine, he was smart to be concerned but it was all set.   So he heads to the post office and pays $77.00 to ship the computer to the South Africa address.  He tells me that he shipped it and I ask him about signature delivery and a tracking number.  He tells me he couldn't get either of those and I get even more nervous.  At this point, I'm invoking my yoga breathing to stay calm but everything inside me is thinking - how could you ship something worth $550.00 and not have a signature, to a foreign company!!!!??????  but I did my yoga breathing and thought to myself..... if he doesn't get his money, it's bad, but it's not tragic.  He won't be in the hospital or jail, the mafia won't beat him up.. he'll just have lost quite a bit of his hard earned money from his summer job.  Sigh.  So I try to encourage him realizing at this point, the shipment is on it's way and he's probably just as anxious as we were about the deal.

So today he calls me....  the paypal account that was used to pay for the item was phony.  When he called paypal to find out why his payment hadn't cleared, they told him they had no record of his order number.  He realized he had been scammed and was not too happy about it.  Sigh.  The worst part is that not only is out the value of the laptop, but he spent $77.00 to ship it!  Bummer.  Big Bummer.  All he can do now is file a police report, which he did, but none of us think anyone will ever see any money or the laptop again.

He actually was pretty calm about it.  He realized a few places he went wrong along the way.  He talked to ebay twice about it and both times they assured him the deal would be fine.  He never talked to paypal and if he had talked to them before shipping, he would have realized the account was phony.  I think ebay should have been clear that from THEIR end the deal looked okay, but encouraged him to talk to paypal about the money part.  I'm not very happy with ebay.  If they are going to staff customer service, why re-assure a first time seller if in fact he is at high risk for a scam.  Arghhhhh.  My instinct was that it was a scam because the ebay buyer was willing to pay more than the market price for the product.   As much as Eric wanted the computer to be worth that, it was probably only worth half that.  So, tough, tough lesson learned.  I don't think Eric is going to be doing a lot of high ticket items through ebay anytime in the future.  Sadly, when I talk to people about this, others have similar stories of scams.  One guy told of a $30,000 RV deal gone bad.  Yikes.  It's really a shame, because ebay and craig's lists are GREAT venues to sell unwanted stuff.  A few bad eggs spoil it for so many others.  Sigh.

As for me, I am doing just fine.  I was proud that I stayed out of it and let him do it himself.  I know maybe I could have prevented the loss by being ubber controlling mom and insisting on doing it for him, but he would have always felt that I cheated him out of the true value of the computer and wouldn't have learned this tough, touch lesson.  I've heard it said, let your kids make mistakes when the stakes aren't quite so high.  Who knows what valuable lesson Eric learned from this $550.00 deal that in later life will prevent an even greater financial error. A long time ago, Sarah made a very bad money decision regarding her clothing allowance and she learned at age 12 from that mistake.  Basically she spent her entire fall clothing allowance on a 2 piece bathing suit (in October) but she learned to budget her money better when her spring clothing allowance came out.  And yes, she enjoyed that bathing suit for many years, but how often can a 12 year old wear a bathing suit in New England.  Luckily for her she didn't out grow her 2 pairs of jeans that she had from the year before.   Lessons like that are hard to learn, but necessary.

Well, thanks for visiting my blog today and hearing our sad story.  Do you have an experience with your kids of letting them do things for themselves, even when it may result in mistakes?  How did it work out for you?

Monday, November 18, 2013

A new look to my blog

Hi friends,

I was inspired this weekend to update the look of my blog.  Do you like it?  I added a few new features like translate (in case any of you are from non-english speaking countries) and some extra ways to follow my blog.  I am way overdue to update my photos.  I hope to get some new photos taken over the holidays and my goal is to have the website updated by January 1st.  Let's see how I do.

So do you want to see the crafty goodness I was working on over the weekend?  Here you go.  As I mentioned yesterday I was BUSY making Christmas Cards on Saturday.

Here they all are and as you can see, there are similar.  All use Karen Giron's sketch from her sweet sunday sketch challenge (details about this on yesterdays post.)

The first card using a Denami stamp.

 This next card is made with Taylored Expressions Woodland Winter.
 This next one also uses Taylored Expressions Woodland Winter only this time with the tree and owl image.
 Next up is a card made with Taylored Expressions Baby It's Cold Outside Santa image.
 And below is also Taylored Expressions Baby it's cold outside christmas tree image.
So that's it for my creations.  Which is your favorite?  Thanks so much for visiting my blog and let me know what you think of my changes!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas cards

Hi friends,

Today is my first post with Christmas cards.  I know, I am sooo late this year.  I was able to head into the craft room for most of the afternoon yesterday.  At first I was stumped: So many option, which direction should I go?  So I started with the idea to make 'the kids'  cards.  Now 'the kids' in our family are age 16-24, so they are youthful cards but not too cutesy.

I was in search of a sketch and found Karen Giron's, sweet Sunday sketch and got busy.  I actually made several cards using this sketch and over the next days/weeks, I will post them here but for now I'll share one of my favorite creations from yesterday.


This is a great sketch and Karen is showcasing many beautiful creations on her blog.

Karen's blog

Below is a view of the sketch.... get used to this because I made LOTS of cards using this template.


Oh and if you are wondering how Joey the invalid dog is doing, he is doing just fine. He clearly doesn't understand the doctors instructions about bed rest.  Yesterday while I was crafting on the 3rd floor I hear a sound in the stairwell.  Sure enough, he had broken through the make-shift barrier and hiked his injured self up the three flights of stairs.  He looked pretty uncomfortable once he got there and to ensure he gets the rest he needs,  we went to Target and got a secure baby gate to restrict him more completely.  He seems to have gained his mobility back for sure, now we just have to restrict him to ensure he heals.

Thanks for visiting, have a great day.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sending Prayers

Hi friends,

Today I have a card to share with you for a friend who is hurting.  A woman I've worked with for over 15 years is on leave because her husband is very ill with cancer. Hospice has been brought in and they are trying to keep him comfortable but it doesn't seem like he's got a lot more time.

I have been praying for her and her family and wanted to send a card to let her know I care, so I had seen a beautiful card by Lori Tecler and decided to use her sympathy card as my inspiration.

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/267049452876222739/

Here is what I came up with.


I'll get this off in the mail tomorrow and hopefully it will encourage here.

While I was working on this card today I was also taking care of my invalid old dog Joey.  My dear doggie Joey is getting old.  He's 14 now and he gets around pretty good, but not the same as the old days.   Last night I was at a church meeting and didn't get home till 9:30pm.  When I arrived Bob had told me that Joey had eaten dinner and gone up to the second floor to bed and hadn't been around all evening.   After a bit, we heard him get up and start down the stairs.  Kaploohy.  He came rumble, tumble down the wooden steps and laid on the landing looking quite miserable.  It didn't seem like he banged himself up all that much on the way down, but he couldn't get up from the stair landing.  So I picked him up, carried him to the couch and tried to comfort him.  I carried him upstairs to bed when we went up and this morning was disappointed to see that he couldn't lift himself up from his bed.  So I carried him downstairs, carried him to the lawn and watched him very lightly put a slight amount of weight on his hind legs to do his #1 and #2.  I carried him in, laid him in front of his food and he lay on the floor with his head lifted and ate his dog food.

He went into the vet this morning and they prescribed bedrest for 2 weeks with pain medication and anti-inflamatory medication to ease the swelling and pain in his hind quarters.  They offered to do an X-ray if I wanted but didn't insist on it so I opted for the bedrest and pain pills to see how he responds.  the fact that he could stand and walk for short periods of time was a good sign.

So Joey is now the king of the house.  I put his bed in front of the fireplace, brought him some food and medicine throughout the day and gave him love and attention.  The medication makes him sleepy so he hasn't been too disappointed about spending the day in bed.  It was kind of eye opening that he's not as young as he was.  We are all hoping he makes a full recovery but we are not especially optimistic that he'll be climbing up the 3 flights of stairs and jumping on the bed again.

Here he is getting his pill with peanut butter on a lovely ceramic dish....
 And here he is in front of the warm fire, in his cozy bed relaxing and healing.
I'll keep you updated on his progress.  Thanks so much for visiting my blog today.  I hope to hit the craft room this weekend and get going on some christmas cards.  Stop back by next week to see some of my creations.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Demani Blog Hop - Twine!

Good morning friends!

How are you on this fine November morning?  Here in New England it is COLD, but sunny!  Snow is coming this week and it feels like it.

Are you here for the DeNami Blog Hop?  Welcome.  You should have arrived from Greta Hess's blog - http://ggnursecreations.blogspot.com/

I'm so glad you stopped by.  My card below features two cute chickies: Hula girl and soccer chickie.  This card is for my niece Hannah, who turns 12 years old today!  She is a fashionista AND a jock.  I had fun putting pink and bling on my touch of twine card.




As I write this post I am enjoying the yummy smells of home-made chex mix.  Want to see?  Is your mouth watering yet?  I love chex mix and always make it for fall/winter parties.  I don't like store bought, always make it 'from scratch' and never use the microwave instructions.  I made a double batch for the party today.   I'm hoping their are left-overs!
Enjoy your day and don't forget to leave a comment to be eligible for the DeNami prizes. 

Next stop of the blog hop is: Lisa Petrella http://bellalistona.blogspot.com/