Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dear Realtor.....

My husband and I have spent the last several months looking for a house to buy.  We've gone online to look, then driven around neighborhoods of houses that we like.  There has been one consistent thing that has made this house-hunting experience very frustrating, and that has been some of the photos used in the advertisement for the house.  We know that you might want your client's rooms to look bigger than they actually are, but seriously!!!!
This is a picture found in a listing....  really?  This bed is for a very tall person who doesn't mind sitting on the edge of it with their knees up around their ears. 

To this realtor's credit - they did include a 'normal' photograph also.  Why even use those wide angle shots?  Hate them.  



To be honest with you Mr. or Ms. Realtor - there are houses that we didn't even go to see because we were so disappointed with the quality of the photos that were used.  Here are a few more examples.  These photos just do not do justice to the home.  I can 'almost' say ok to some of the fish-eye lens shots -- almost....    We did actually see a couple of these rooms in real life.  They looked much better than how they were portrayed in the ad. 






Notice the squatty fridge? 


As a person who is trying to sell your home - ask to see the photos your realtor takes before they go live online.  And I beg you - please don't allow them to use wide-angle shots, they are a disservice to your home and will not help to sell your house.

We did finally find our next home - and not a single picture in the home ad was a wide-angle shot!  Likewise with the house that we sold.  Kudos to good, old-fashioned, picture it as it is photography!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Quiet Book Pages

Last fall I spent a considerable amount of time making quiet book pages for my grandchildren.  I've learned a few things along the way - and the next set I make will likely be a little different than those I have completed.  I made some about 1.5 years ago that were very similar in style to the ones I have pictured here.

Even though I will do some things differently with the next set, the desired outcome has been the same - the kids love them.  They do provide a quiet activity for them to do - especially in places like church or the car.  So no matter how you do them, just do something.  I've got some ideas I can't wait to make happen!

The first quiet book I made, I made my own cover.  This one I used a 3-ring binder.  I glued a layer of warm and natural to the binder, then glued the cover to the warm and natural.  I sewed the straps on before it was glued.  Easy peasy!  Although, I probably should have used a 2" binder rather than a 1".  It really limits how many pages can be put in the book at a time.

After the fabric was glued onto the outside of the binder - I flipped it over and glued it down on the inside.  I then took a piece of card stock and covered it in the green striped fabric and glued it to the inside covers.  This covered up the edges of the outer fabric that had been folded over and glued down.


I love the barn page.  I found the cute finger puppets on-line.  I decided to try using the pencil pouch to store them in rather than making a pocket on the page.  Love that!
Another thing I learned ... SEW EVERYTHING!  When I took this picture I hadn't sewn along the outside of the barn or on the white pieces at all.  It wasn't long before those edges were pulling up and the pieces were detaching from the barn even though I had used a LOT of glue.  Before it was given away - everything was stitched.


The I Spy page made from fabric that is on their I Spy quilts.  This was taken before the finishing touches were put on the page.

This was a fun one to do - but if I were to do it again I might use regular cotton fabric as a background and make the bee so he could be moved around.

I used tablecloth vinyl to make the packet and filled it with buttons and beads and all sorts of tiny trinkets I found.  Use your 40-50% off coupons on this one!

This is one that I glued down REALLY well and figured I didn't need to sew anything.  The first time my grandson was on this page, he was picking at the edges and it was already starting to come apart.  Ugh....lesson learned.   SEW EVERYTHING!

LOVE this page!  I chose to not cut out felt numbers and letters.  Got these in a package of foam stickers.  I added E6000 adhesive to the backs of them and they did stick VERY WELL!

And look - the flaps lift up with little jewels for them to count.  Again, I used the E6000 adhesive to glue them down.

Felt strips with a fabric backing.  I wish now I had used all felt....  You can see the fray edges of the fabric.  These can be stuck together to make a chain, or simply connected one to the other to make a long strip.  Good color practice and eye/hand coordination when sticking them together.

 
I think this is one of my top three favorite pages!  The fish slide back and forth along the ribbon.  I lined the fish with vinyl so they would slide easily.  The other critters on top were cut out of fabric and glued to felt with a velcro backing on them so they will stick to the 'sand'.  The edges should have been treated with FrayCheck - not sure if that happened before it was given away!  




There were several more pages that I did - Mr Potato Head, tic-tac-toe, an Easter egg with Easter themed finger puppets, etc.

The one VERY IMPORTANT thing that you need to know about making your quiet book is this:  NEVER TELL YOUR HUSBAND HOW MUCH MONEY YOU SPENT DOING IT!!!   I would purchase things with coupons and on sale, and get things a little at a time, but I stopped keeping track of how much it was costing me because they have truly been a labor of love.

As I said - I'm already planning the next set of pages to do.  I will tell you this:  there will not be any holes in the pages.  I'm looking at a totally different way of putting them together in a book.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Anxiety - Part Two!

So - the previous post I wrote about anxiety - and how I was going to stay on top of it so I didn't have the kind of experience that Sandra Turley had?!  Remember that?  Well - I'm happy to say that I did just that - I had almost exactly the same experience that she did. 

It was Tuesday night, December 16th.  I could not go to sleep.  You know those nights when you lie there wide awake?  Yup - one of those nights.  After an hour or so of tossing and turning I decided to head to the recliner so I wouldn't disturb the hubby.  He had an important meeting early the next morning.  I'd been there about 1/2 hour - just enjoying looking at the Christmas lights - when BAM

My heart started doing somersaults.  Seriously.  It felt like it was violently flopping back and forth in my chest.  Then I got an intense pain around the sternum area.  I thought I was having a heart attack, so was going to call out to the sleeping hubster, but suddenly I couldn't get my breath.  I was nauseous and dizzy and had a difficult time getting out of the chair.  I made it to the hall closet where the medicine is kept and took an aspirin.  They say to do that if you are having a heart attack.  

Now, this is where you DON'T do what I did next.  I could breathe a little easier and my acrobatic heart had slowed down considerably, so instead of waking up my husband and heading to the emergency room or calling 911, I decided to head to the computer.  Yup - that's what we all do when we think we might be dieing, right?!  Guess I should have written my final farewell while I was at the keyboard.  Instead I googled heart attack symptoms and really, it didn't seem like that was what was happening to me.  So I googled panic attack symptoms.  BINGO!  Every symptom - I just checked them off one by one.  By this time I had decided that I wasn't going to die, so I popped one of my pills for anxiety and headed back to the recliner.  Within 20 minutes all symptoms were gone and I felt much better. 

I hope to NEVER have another panic/anxiety attack.  It was seriously the scariest medical situation I've ever been through. 

I had made a major decision to quit my job, which I knew would alleviate some of the stress I was having in my life.  Our little family has experienced a lot of stressful situations this last year.  Some of them were really wonderful - like a new grandbaby being born, a daughter and her family moving into their own home, and another daughter moving back 'home'.  Some were really difficult - like my husband being put on probation at his job unjustly and everything that went along with that including a quick emergency flight home to be with him; opening up a new school with double the student population and everything that goes along with that, including spending time in classrooms once a week.  I'm not a teacher.  I wanted to be a teacher once - long, long ago.  But after that first practicum experience, I knew that I would be eaten alive by those children so I changed my major.  So this experience of being in the classroom often left me in tears in the nearest bathroom when I was done. 

In hindsight, I can tell you some things that I've learned.
  1. If something is being overly stressful in your life - don't play the martyr and stick with it because you don't want to feel like a failure.
  2. Don't worry about doing everything, all of the time.  It's ok to let some things go and not be perfect.  Why is it that we sometimes feel we have to be the 'superwoman'?  That's just wrong!
  3. Be honest with your feelings and talk with someone about them - be it your spouse, a trusted friend, your doctor or another professional.
  4. A strong relationship with your Father in Heaven can help you through really difficult times.
  5. Studying the scriptures can give you insight and strength and help you feel the love of your Savior.
  6. "Those that be with us are greater than those that be with them."  2 Kings 6:16.  I believe that the adversary is working overtime to make us feel that we have failed and that we are of no worth.  I also believe that we have a loving Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ who know us personally and love us perfectly.  Through the gifts and blessings of the Atonement, we can be succored and strengthened through the Savior.
  7. When you are having a medical emergency - don't google it!  Get professional medical help immediately.
 Our lives are full of stress.  Learning to cope - and learning to let go of certain things will help us enjoy the life that is ours to live.  Carpe' Diem!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Anxiety and Life

I recently read an article written by Sandra Turley that resonated with me so strongly.  Reading it actually gave me the internal permission to admit out loud what was happening with myself.  I have been fighting a battle with anxiety - especially the last 5 1/2 months.  I've had little blips on the radar before that, but these last 5+ months have really been tough ones.  There wasn't just one thing that I was troubled about, there were several.  And these were life-altering situations.
  • My husband was told he was being put on probation at work for something he didn't do and may lose his job.
  • I was told that I would need to do something with my job that causes me anxiety.
  • The school I worked at last year closed and a new school opened.  More than double the number of students and staff.  Add in behavior and special ed class rooms.  Starting the school with no behavior plan and a gym not done - just to name a few things - and you end up with a whole lot of crazy!
  • My husband had major surgery on his cervical spine.
  • I'm having increased problems with my back.
  • We have family members who are struggling with extreme health conditions.
  • A daughter had a baby and moved and we went to help.
  • Another daughter and her family moved and we couldn't be there to help.
  • My church calling (Stake RS President) takes me away from my home ward most Sundays.  We recently had boundary changes and lots of people moving in and out.  The short of that is this: when I am able to make it to my own ward - I don't feel a connection there any more.  I've been away for the most part for 5 1/2 years now.
  • And so on and so forth.
 So - when I read this article:  http://sandraturley.com/i-am-a-duck/ it struck me that I needed to own what I was feeling in order to deal with it.  I've had my husband give me a priesthood blessing.  I resigned my position at work.  A change was not able to be made to relieve me of a two hour disaster in my work life once a week, so I quit.  Not even having that be acknowledged by my supervisor hurt incredibly, and I had to work through the feelings of feeling worthless and not valued, but now I feel ok.  So glad I am walking away.

I am trying to focus more on my Savior, on the blessings he has given so abundantly to our family and the moments when He has whispered Peace to my heart.  I am allowing myself to be in the scriptures more.  I am saying no to things that are not necessary right now.  I am focusing on our family.

I had my anxiety medication prescription renewed and am being vigilant in taking it on a scheduled basis rather than just PRN as I did for so long.

This is just the beginning.  I have much to do.  I am a worrier.  I am a fixer.  And I need to learn to let most of that go. 

The Savior has born all of these feelings of mine.  And because of that, He alone knows how to succor me and strengthen me.  It is upon Him, my Rock, that I will lean and trust.  I feel that I will move forward, and that things will be better than I could have ever imagined.  But for now, I am striving to slow down a bit - enjoy my blessings - and Let Go & Let God.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Piano Guys

This video was shot at one of my favorite places - Tony Grove - high in the mountains above Logan, Utah!  I've walked around this lake more than just a few times.  And I love this song too.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Homemade marshmallows


I pulled out my favorite mug tonight.  I really needed some hot chocolate!  It's been cold in Missouri, and typically once I get home at the end of the day - I stay there.  But tonight I had to go back out into the cold to attend a PTA meeting.  

If you notice, there is something missing from this mug of hot chocolate.   Marshmallows!  I checked the pantry - none.  I went downstairs to my storage area - none.  Guess what I'm doing tomorrow night?  I'm going to make some marshmallow cubes.  It's a recipe I've been using for years - usually shaping into eggs and dipping in chocolate for Easter, but hey, I'm good with a naked marshmallow too!  Or wait ~ what about the homemade marshmallows still dipped in chocolate and then put in the mug of hot chocolate?  Can you say rich hot chocolate?  Hmmmmm.  Maybe I'll dip some in white chocolate too - or mint chocolate ~ oh, the possibilities are endless!  I'll have to give you an update on that later.

Here's my basic marshmallow recipe:

Homemade Marshmallows

6 T. cold water 
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt

In a medium bowl, combine 6 T. cold water and the Knox gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Meanwhile, boil 1/2 c. water and the sugar together in a small saucepan.  Stir just until the sugar is dissolved and pour over the gelatin mixture.  Let cool.  A film will be created on top of this mixture as it cools - spoon off the film and discard.  Add the vanilla and the salt and beat 8-10 minutes with an electric beater until soft peaks form when you lift the beaters from the mixture.

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.  Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and spread it out.  When it sets (doesn't take long), cut into squares and enjoy!  Before eating - lightly brush off the flour and toss in that mug of hot chocolate.

Store in an airtight container - or - dip in some chocolate and doubly enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

LDS Church - General Women's Mtg.

I don't know about you - but I need a spiritual pick-me-up!  And it all begins this weekend!


It begins with the General Women's Meeting this weekend.  There just might be cupcakes or ice cream, or both afterwards!  And it continues the following weekend with General Conference.  I love having the opportunity to listen to Prophets, Apostles and leaders of the auxiliaries speak.  I love reading over their talks after conference is over.  You should see my Ensign!  Lots of notes in the margins, lots of colors, lots of wondering what I  need to do to be better....

Won't you join us?
 Information here 





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

This is our time....

There has been A LOT going in with our family the last little bit. 
  • A daughter and son-in-law moving, and another getting reading to move.  These are good moves, but nonetheless, if you have moved you understand some of the stresses involved with that.
  • Some health issues.  The normal aches and pains for us old folks, and possibly some carpal tunnel that will need to be taken care of.  And maybe a herniated disk in my lower back that will need to be fixed sooner than later.  An eye condition that is being treated through an FDA approved trial.
  • A new grandbaby!  
  • Big sister adjusting to having a new little brother, a new house, and not having her special friend MJ just up stairs.   
  • The lack of support from a boss and the possibility of losing a job.  
  • Deciding that maybe we should just find another job rather than wait and see if his still exists in 6 months.
  • Concerns over extended family members and struggles in their families: babies born, cancer, the need for a job, upcoming back surgery, knee surgery, recent back/neck surgery, other health concerns, not being able to have babies, etc.  The list goes on - and there are many situations I'm sure we are not aware of.
I found this on Pinterest and wanted to share it here.  I'm going to have it printed off on a large piece of paper to help us remember the positives.

The original link for this is here, at thegirlcreative.com

We have been overwhelmed with the love and support of family and friends.  Through the prayers and fasting of others - we truly have felt lifted up.  Our burden has been made lighter.  We can do this!  This is our time and we are going to move forward. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not feeling so bad....

Every time I walk outside, I try to pull a few weeds from the flower beds at the front of the house.  Sometimes I feel bad that my flower beds aren't as pristine and beautiful as some of our neighbors'.  But then I go to the kitchen to cook dinner or do dishes, look out the window......


.....and then I don't feel so bad!  

Those aren't bushes you see that are almost 6 feet tall, obscuring the hot tub.  Those would be weeds.  The grass along the back fence was recently attacked with a weed-eater as it was initially too tall for the lawn mower to handle, and the trees that are growing along the fence really shouldn't be there.  They are volunteers that never got pulled out when they were a few inches high.  

The fence runs right along a LOT of utility lines.  Can you imagine what those roots are doing?!

The front yard was killed off a couple of years ago - and now it's just weeds.   It's really quite an eyesore in our neighborhood.  

So - back to those weeds in my flower beds - I don't feel too bad about them!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Reading

A friend let me borrow a book when she was done reading it.  She told me not to give up - she didn't really get hooked until about page 75.  Well --- I was hooked somewhere between pages 2 & 3!  This is the first book in a trilogy - "A Discovery of Witches" in the 'All Souls Trilogy'.  I highly recommend this book.  It is about witches, vampires and daemons.  But not like 'Twilight' or other juvenile books.  These are more grown-up books with a lot of historical references included. 

A Discovery of Witches 

I'm just starting book two - "The Shadow of Night"  and Book three comes out in July!




The Book of Life
Shadow of Night
I'm looking forward to some good summer reading.  I did find out last night that you can 'preorder' "The Book of Life" for your Kindle or other e-reader.  On its release date - it will be downloaded to your device.

Oh - and while I was browsing to get the pictures of the book covers - I saw that Warner Brothers has bought the rights to make a movie of 'Discovery of Witches'.