Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011!

So looking forward to the stroke of midnight when 2011 goes away for good! 

I'm thankful that we've gotten through it, but whew! why did it have to be so rough?  Seems, it takes a good hard knock on the head to get my attention and teach me a few things:
  • Be humble
  • Love harder
  • Live simpler
  • Happiness is not found in things
  • Appreciate what we have and what we've been given
  • Open my heart, my eyes and my ears
Hello 2012 – the beginning of fresh starts and new growth.  The possibilities are endless...

I have much to do in 2012, let's get on with it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Past

Feeling a bit melancholy today for some unknown reason.  Dug through some old photos to find my Christmas past.  Circa 1961.

Just look at the two of us!  1960's version of Glamour Shots!
Really missing this lady today!

The Hartson Family.
Guessing my dad is the photographer.
Sadly, only three of us still living this Christmas.

Check out my festive apparel.  Was that darn jumper reversible?
Or did I have one in every color?

Merry Christmas Eve.  I'll be enjoying the next precious time with my family.  Hope you are doing the same!

Once again we are weaving the tapestry that is Christmas.
-Polly McKinstry

Friday, December 23, 2011

Making a list...

presents? check.
wrapped? check.
snow? check. check. check!
stocking stuffers? check.
cards sent? check.
grocery store list? making.
baking? later.
Checking it twice.
Already know who's been naughty...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Must-Have" Holiday Photos!

I had planned to post this early after Thanksgiving, so we could all get those December photos and not have to be wishing we had taken a picture of this or that come January when we sit down to scrapbook them or put them in our Project Life books.

So, better late than never right?

Since we're down to almost "the day" and besides the routine normal holiday photos, here are my ideas for some new, "must-have" Christmas photos (and in no particular order):

  • Relatives (either coming or going) (bearing gifts would be nice!)
  • Setting the table (remember this photo before you all sit down) (don't forget to light the candles)
  • Baking and/or candy making (either the process or the beautiful trays of goodies)
  • Wrapping presents (set your photo on the table and use your self-timer for a great perspective of your hands in action!)
  • Last minute shopping? (parking lots, lines, cash register, receipts, etc.) (I also love retail signs on doors stating holiday shopping hours)
  • Group family shots (those are a tradition at our house, using a tripod and the timer)
  • Stockings ready for Santa (love the shot of them stuffed to the brim on Christmas morning)
  • Leaving cookies out for Santa (don't forget the milk)
  • Holiday cocktails (peppermint martinis anyone? so festive with a candy cane garnish) (I also love eggnog with nutmeg sprinkled on top with a shot of most any kind of liqueur)
  • Family traditions (what is that your family does without fail?)
  • Christmas PJ's (either opening them or wearing them on Christmas morn)
  • Christmas love/joy (kisses, hugs, mistletoe)
  • If you don't already have a gazillion shots of your tree, remember to photograph it in low light on Christmas Eve
  • The "aftermath" (the mess/chaos of gift opening)
  • Pick a shiny ornament from your tree and see if you can photograph the reflections (the dog, the family, gifts, lights, etc.) (use your macro setting)
  • Don't forget your pet (see if you can get yours to sit or lay under the tree) (mine won't)
Camera settings/hints/know-how/practice reminders:
  • Turn off your flash
  • Use your tripod in low light situations
  • Use the self-timer
  • Remember to "get in the photo"
  • Charge your batteries!
  • Look for candid shots (not posed)
  • Look for people interacting with each other
  • Take loads of pictures/edit & delete later
  • Hand your camera to someone else 
Enjoy your holiday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Scrapbooker for Hire!

Look at me.  A real professional now.

Notice the link at the top of the page (just above Emerson's quote)?  Yep.  I'm finally pursuing my passion. I've taken thousands of photos.  I've made many, many scrapbooks for my family, friends, and gifts.  Ten years of scrapbooking.  Ten years of being a Creative Memories consultant.  I have taught many others how to preserve their family memories.  I think I've earned the name "teacher" by my friends.  But, now I am doing it for "real."

I thought I'd share my first scrapbook that I was hired to do from start to finish.  This precious little girl is almost two and her mommy wanted her baby photos preserved (smart mommy).  I've been working on this since August and delivered it right before Thanksgiving (yep, took me quite awhile), but I enjoyed every darn minute of it.

Of course, I consider it a masterpiece and I'm pretty darn proud of myself.  Enjoy.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh, how I love pumpkin!

It's about time for a recipe, huh?  Been awhile.  Even though the calendar says December, we're technically still in the fall season.  I stocked up on canned pumpkin right before Thanksgiving (yea, Costco!).  I really should be thinking about sugar cookies, fudge, snickerdoodles, and peppermint cookies. There's still plenty of time, right?

See, I really do love to cook and love to bake.  (I love to eat, too; but I'll save that post for another time, eh?)  This, coupled with my love for pumpkin, equals:

Pumpkin Muffins Cupcakes!

Super easy.

1 box yellow cake mix (any brand will do)
1 can pumpkin puree
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground nutmeg

Mix all together and fill your cupcake pan.  That's it!  I used paper cupcake liners (so easy).  You could also just grease & flour your pan.

Yum-O Topping:
1 stick softened butter
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar

Cut the butter into the flour & sugar (or use a pastry blender).  You want this to be a very crumbly consistency.

Generously top each of the batter-filled cups with a mound of topping and pat lightly.

Bake as directed for cupcakes (look for directions on the back of your yellow cakemix box).  I'm at high altitude and baked mine about 25 mins.  Yield:  18 muffins cupcakes



Enjoy the yummy pumpkin goodness.  Warning:  they are a bit messy!  They are sublime with your favorite coffee drink or even better with a cold glass of milk.  Afternoon snack.  Or, breakfast!  Most times...Bill eats two (at a time).

Don't forget to share.

iphone testimonial (pardon the text-ease): 

"U better save me a couple more of those muffins.  Those darn things r incredible!"
-Eric, my 25-year-old son

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving thanks

Sometimes in all the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, I get caught up in all the commotion, the stress, the problems, the money issues, the job situation, etc. etc.   (Geez, that opening statement sounds like a glass-half-empty-kind-of girl, huh?)

So, today, even though it's busy, I want to stop to think about everything good in my life, everything I am thankful for and my many blessings.  I literally am overcome with emotion. Too often, I allow in-the-moment frustrations of everyday life to take over my focus and blur the big picture. I have so much for which to be thankful.

Let me give thanks that my kids are grown and healthy.  I can only hope that they will someday think I was a great mom, even though I mostly feel that I could have done better.

Let me give thanks that my significant other for 20 years, and best friend of 24, continues to find me witty, charming, and beautiful (hot?).  I never question his love for me.

Let me give thanks for a family, and extended family, who supports, loves and believes in me.

Let me give thanks for my girlfriends.  The girls who take the time to read my blog and support me, my photographic endeavors, and my scrapbook shenanigans.

Let me give thanks for beating cancer.

Let me give thanks for a big, full life.

If you're so inclined, leave a comment about what you're thankful for or something you love about the season.

Have a peaceful, loving, good-eating kind of day.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

This year...we've got a 1-year old that needs a costume!

During our most recent trip to PetsMart, we had loads of options and chose to try on a few.  We were torn as to which one to be...

Should I be a pumpkin?

Should I be a unicorn?

Should I be a witch?
After much deliberation...our little pumpkin will be a pumpkin!  The trick-or-treaters are gonna love her and vice versa!
Happy Halloween

Click Here For Images &
Happy Halloween Pictures - Pictures

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pink Sunday

This past Sunday, October 2, the 19th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was held in Denver.  It is one of the nation's largest 5K walks, and one of the largest Susan G. Komen events in the world.  Yea Denver!

It is a big day in our house.  A big day for me.  We celebrate this day!

I am just one woman
One in a sea of 50,000. 

One of 3,000 survivors.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Beautiful Niagara

Our trip to Niagara Falls for our 20th anniversary celebration was just fabulous!  I really didn't know what to expect from the falls, as I didn't do a whole lot of research before the trip and I've never even seen more than a photo or two.  No one has ever told me about a trip to Niagara Falls.  However, I had heard some of the rhetoric about the American side vs. the Canadian side.

You be the judge...

American Bridal Veil Falls
Canadian Horseshoe Falls
Well, let me just say that it is absolutely a remarkable place to visit.  How this amazing flow of water was formed is beyond my comprehension.  The amount of water that goes over those falls every minute of every day is mind boggling (why doesn't it stop?).  The energy the falls produce is astounding.  Stand above, beside, or at the foot of the falls (in a little boat) and the roar of the falls is deafening.

Bill and I really do love to travel.  Doesn't matter where.  We could very easily be considered your "typical tourist" or "crazy Americans".  We like to experience all the destination has to offer, partake of all the local flavor, hot spots, things to do, things to see, and take WAY TOO MANY pictures.  We would/could not travel to such a destination and not see it from every angle, both countries, top & bottom, and wear the mist in our hair, our clothes, and on our camera lenses.

The weather was iffy to say the least.  Very cool September week.  We had grey overcast skies most of the time (until the last two days) and a bit of rain.

The whole Niagara area is clean, clean!  Beautifully landscaped parks, walkways & flowers!

The Secret Garden
The falls are even more spectacular at night (although very hard to photograph) and one of the most romantic strolls for a couple.  A couple celebrating 20 years together.

Fireworks every Friday and Sunday nights!
The countryside is beautiful.  Green, heavily forrested, and lush.  Very clean.  The Niagara penninsula is also a wine making, grape growing paradise.  Wineries for miles and miles.  We spent a day wine tasting and just fell in love with Canada's Icewine.  Yumm!  So sweet.  So expensive!  In fact, one of the best meals we had the entire trip was at a small winery.  Fresh baked bread from the outside brick oven, a french menu, a beautiful view over the grapes, and I was in heaven!  Our cute little waiter with his thick French accent...just perfect.  

Ravine Winery (a historic 1812 civil war site)
Because we flew to Toronto, we also spent some time enjoying this beautiful city.  It's really very metropolitan, reminded me a lot of New York City, but has the enormous Lake Ontario recreational offerings. The City is booming & bustling with at least a dozen high rize-high-end luxury condo projects under construction and boasts a low 7% unemployment rate (hmm...maybe we'll move to Canada). 

We were able to reconnect and lower the stress load we've been carrying for some time.  I'm grateful for a big life event to celebrate to get us out of the routine, even if it just for a short week.  We feel refreshed and happy. 

Ready for the next 20...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Twenty Years Together

Happy Labor Day!  A day with many different meanings to different people.  A day off work.  A day to officially mark the end of summer.  A day to BBQ.  No more wearing white!  The beginning of fall.  etc.

To me, it is monumental.  It marks the 20th year with the love of my life.  My soul mate.  My best friend.  My man.

Yep.  20 years.

We are away for a little trip to celebrate our anniversary life together in Niagara Falls today.  A romantic destination we could reach in a few hours, use our miles to get there, and not have to go in debt to enjoy.  Really, I have secretly wanted to see the Falls for a long time...this just seemed like the time.

As we are enjoying some well-needed time away, I've taken some time (pre-trip) to reflect on this big accomplishment.  Twenty years is a long time.  Our lives our full. 

It's been quite a ride:
  • Successfully blended two families (can you say stepchildren?)
  • 120 birthday celebrations
  • Thousands of miles traveled.  Vacations both big and small.  
  • 16 Employers (most of them mine and a couple of them more than once)
  • Raised 4 kids into adulthood (whew!)
  • Worked together (in the same office) for 4 years
  • Loved 4 dogs. 
  • A bird, some fish, and a couple of hamsters were also part of the family.
  • Lost two parents
  • Battled 1 major illness
  • Sold a house...built a house 
  • Experienced 7,300 days of Bill's unique and entertaining sense of humor
  • Enjoyed 10,512,000 minutes of happiness

In retrospect, twenty years is nothing.  It has flown by in a wink of an eye.  I feel very fortunate to have found a man that loves me unconditionally.  A relationship I would not trade for another.  A gem of  a man unlike any I've met or known.  A love that lasts.

Looking forward to the next 20 and what is to come.  New experiences.  Hand in hand.

Monday, August 22, 2011

#12 - Take Gracie Swimming

Crossing #12 off The List! Turns out that there are a lot of places to take your dog swimming if you know where to look or are connected to the all-that-is-required-to-raise-an-active-dog circle (which I am not, but have a very good friend who wrote the handbook!).

In our case - lots of bark.  Little splash.  Loads of fun!

Yes.  It's a real event.  Requires pre-registration and a fee!  Turns out that the city of Lakewood lets the canine population swim in the local community pools just prior to the draining and winterization (August 22 in Denver seems a wee bit early to me).  Oh, and the pooch gets a goody bag!

Turns out that my water loving little girl only likes water that comes out of a hose, a faucet, a sprinkler, a stream, or in her water dish.  She's not a swimmer nor does she like swimming pools (be it the large kind or the baby kind).  She's more of a spectator really.

She did have a tremendously good time seeing all the other dogs and their water antics.  She did chase a ball into the (baby) pool, but if it went further than she could reach, she quickly lost interest.  On a few occasions, her mom helped her into the pool to get that ball (for a very quick exit and a shower shake to let me know that is a no-no). 

Another thing, the baby pool isn't really for babies either.  Isn't there some kind of height restriction or age limit for swimming in a baby pool?  Those giant dogs tromping around in the baby pool scared the bejesus out of Gracie.  Definitely a deterrent to getting in!

All in all a good event (great photo opp).  She was tuckered out.  Slept the whole way home. Oh, and the mom came home wetter than she.

We may try again.  Next year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy Belated 1st Birthday (to me)

A friend helped me realize just yesterday that my blog is officially one-year old!  How did that happen?  How did I forget?  Blogging still seems so new to me.

I really do love the outlet to record my musings.  Looking back, even though I'm not that exciting or entertaining, it sure is a great on-line, pictorial journal of my every day life. 

For that...I am grateful.

Monday, August 15, 2011

#41. Go on a hike

From my earlier "summer photo prompts" list was #41 - go on a hike.  For lots of reasons:
  1. Exercise Gracie (a tired puppy makes for a pleasant evening)
  2. Enjoy beautiful Colorado
  3. See something new
  4. Get fresh air
  5. Exercise Judy (and Bill)
Truth is, this is our 3rd day-hike this summer - all of which have been fabulous.  We are really enjoying this activity and find ourselves getting into it more and more.  We've got backpacks, new hiking boots, rain gear (due to not being prepared on an earlier hike), trekking poles, and a portable jet boil (for a hot meal when we come off the mountain).

Just yesterday, we conquered Blue Lake (in the Brainard Lakes area north of Nederland) a 5.1 mile roundtrip trek.  Probably the most beautiful of the three hikes so far. The wildflowers are beautifully abundant this late in the summer because of the record snowpack.

Enjoy the scenery!

Looking back down the valley.

Almost there.

The payoff.

August snow melt.

Just included this one for grins!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Deck Love (part 1)

Thanks to blogland, I stumbled upon a post written about reclaiming & redesigning your deck, I wondered...could that work for us?  Yes it can!  We've been working hard on getting our deck all gussied up and beautified (is that a word?) and taking it back (literally) from the birds.  The history is that when we built the house, we had the option (added expense of course) to extend our deck...and because there were not many additional options that we didn't take, we had it enlarged.  I did not know at the time, how the neighborhood would lay out and how the slope of the lot would come into play.  (Hard to envision, when you're looking at dirt.)  Although I don't regret the larger deck or the corner lot, I have always felt like we are on display for the whole neighborhood to see every time we go outside to the deck.  Also, because of our south-facing home, we get the hot, blaring sun as it sets every single day which makes for very uncomfortably bright and hot patio time. I have always wanted to add a roof, but would've settled for a motorized awning.  Could never get Bill to come over to the dark side and spend a few dolores.

But, this year, while I was out shopping for my annual flowering plants, I stumbled across this pergola.  I loved it.  Wondered...could it fit?  I hurried home to measure and happened to see it on sale in the Sunday paper.  Karma?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Photograph

I cannot take credit for this brilliant idea.  There is a website dedicated to the art of "taking a picture of the past in the present" (link below).

I had a wonderfully nostaglic night looking for old photos that might work for this purpose.  I headed to my childhood home with several photos in hand.  Imagine my surprise to arrive on Lafayette Street, to find the house for sale.  Is there a message here for me?

In any case, here's the photo I chose.

Dear Photograph,
Now I remember why I don't wear short hair or a bikini!
(circa 1967)
Standing there curbside, the memories came rushing in...

But, what if I could talk to that little girl?  What would I tell her?  Several things:
  1. Relish your childhood (life is going to get rough)
  2. Love harder (they will not be here for long)
  3. Don't quit the piano!
  4. Make smart(er) decisions
  5. Go to college
  6. Take better care of yourself
  7. You turn out okay
  8. You'll live a fulfilled life
To participate in the process, go here:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Photo Prompts

Geez, I can't believe how fast time goes.  Seems like summer will never get here and then when it flies by!  It's half over!

I'm creating this list for myself, but am sharing it here in this forum.  Maybe if I put it out there in the universe, I will truly get to do some fun summer activities and get some great photos all in one fell swoop.  When fall approaches, I hope to have at least half two-thirds of this list crossed off and will share the photos.  Should make for some interesting and fun summer memories.

Here's my to-do list:
  1. Go to the drive-in movies (there's still one left!)
  2. Eat corn-on-the-cob (roasted on the grill)
  3. Go to a Farmers Market
  4. Take in an outdoor concert
  5. Go to a carnival (Elitches might count)
  6. Dine al fresco
  7. Read a book!
  8. Ride our tandem bike somewhere anywhere
  9. Go camping and/or fishing
  10. Go shopping at an outdoor mall
  11. Go to the zoo
  12. Take Gracie swimming (where do you take dogs to swim?)
  13. Cook out
  14. Eat watermelon and spit the seeds
  15. Buy a yummy treat from the ice cream truck
  16. Let Gracie hang her head out the car window
  17. Lay on the grass and star at the clouds or the stars (counts as two?)
  18. Look for a rainbow
  19. Make (not buy) banana splits
  20. Make potato salad (using my mom's recipe)
  21. Bring my golf handicap down!
  22. Get a new summer (hair) do
  23. Go the pool
  24. Eat strawberry short cake
  25. Get a new pair of sandals or flip flops
  26. Go on a picnic (with my cute picnic basket)
  27. Make sun tea
  28. Get a sun tan (where you can see the lines)
  29. Feed the ducks (loved to do this when I was a kid - my Grandma used to have a drawer just for stale bread for this very purpose)
  30. Eat a popsicle (do they still make root beer & banana flavors) (or how 'bout a bomb pop?)
  31. Swing on a swingset
  32. Wash my car MYSELF (in the driveway!)
  33. Eat a root beer float (better yet, make them)
  34. Wiggle my toes in a stream or a lake
  35. Go on a motorcycle ride
  36. Blow bubbles
  37. Make a jello salad
  38. Cook breakfast in the mountains (I loved this too when I was a kid)
  39. Watch the sun set
  40. Walk in the rain
  41. Go on a hike
  42. Watch the fireworks
  43. Go to the mountains
  44. Go to a Rockies game
  45. Make s'mores
  46. Go to the flea market
  47. Climb a Fourteener (as in mountain)
  48. Make home made ice cream
  49. Grow (and HARVEST) some vegetables
  50. Go 4-wheelin'
  51. Make a fruit cobbler
I feel like that's a pretty good start...but I feel the need to make the list much longer.

Poor Bill.  Right?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday

artwork courtesy of Kerri Bradford

nuf said.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy National Camera Day!

Pretty sure this is the first camera I had. 
Gosh, have I always been a shutterbug?
Did you know that today is National Camera Day? However, I pretty much celebrate my camera EVERY day.  My camera(s) is an integral part of my daily life.  Thanks to my new iphone, I take quick snaps here and there to capture precious moments (and a lot of general every day silliness).  I  never have to miss a moment and there's no shortage of snapshots to go around.  I wonder...might I be getting a little over exposed?  Naw.

So today, take a moment and celebrate any kind of camera you have close by.  Marvel for just a moment at the technology.  Give thanks for the special memories that each picture gives to you.  Go ahead and give your camera or smartphone camera a kiss today.  Better yet...get out there and snap a picture -- or two.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Completely Obsessed!

Okay.  So I blogged about the new iphone (birthday present), right?  Well, can I just say that I am completely obsessed over the Words with Friends game?

I had heard about the game and couldn't wait to give it a try.  It was my third download from the App Store (free!).  Words is nearly an exact replica of Scrabble.  Not only that, but after a quick sign up process using my email, I was playing “scrabble” together with some unknown opponent.  I was pleasantly surprised.

You see, this stirs a favorite childhoold memory.  As soon as I was old enough to spell, we played Scrabble.  As soon as I was old enough to hold cards, I learned to play Hearts.  Cards and Board games were a mainstay at our house.  I have still have many, many board games in the closet.  (OMG, I'm a closet board gamer!)  I even have the Deluxe edition of Scrabble.  Trouble is, I can NEVER get anyone to sit down and actually play any of them.

That's why Words is so great.  You can play it anywhere and you don't have to be in the same room together.  And, you don't need a dictionary.  You don't have to challenge a word played.  It either works or it doesn't.  Simple really.  Not only do you play the game in near real time, you have the option to chat with your opponent (perfect for talking trash so you don’t have to switch from your game to the message center).

I'm still learning about my phone.  It amazes me!  My favorite feature has to be the push notifications. They work like a champ. If I am doing something else (like reading a book on my Kindle app -- another blog entry?) and forget that I am playing, it beeps and reminds me that it is my turn!

Overall, the game play is enjoyable, only having to wait 30 seconds to a minute between turns.  However, I have run across several players who take hours, if not days, to take their turn.  Infuriating!

For not costing me anything, this is a pretty sweet game app that has definitely found a place on my new phone.  I have gotten my friends and family members hooked as well (and some of them don't have iphones).  Winning?  About 90%!

Up for a game?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Sitting back at my desk on a Monday morning and just thinking about Memorial Day and all that it means. Those who have lost a loved one. Those that have passed.  Those nameless families wandering through the cemetary.  Those children carrying flowers. Those thousands of similar, plain, stark, white tombstones.  Those that have given their lives for our freedom.  Those flags.  Oh, those flags.

Those that are our part of our history.  Those who made us who we are.  Those that we miss.




Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Monday

How was your weekend?  Ready to face another Monday?  Are you rested?  Refreshed?

Me?  Not so much.
Here's a hint how I spent my weekend (and the last 7 days)!
Productive?  I think so!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Want to win your very own Silhouette machine?

Since entering blogland, I've stumbled across many, many other creative blogs by very talented women.  One of these is Southern Hospitality.  I simply fell in love with her "Porch Makeover" post and am trying to replicate that effort at our house.

So, I'm officially sending you over to her blog, as she is sponsoring a contest to give away a Silhouette machine.  You need this machine!  Any serious crafter/homemaker/scrapbooker/mom/teacher/office worker/nurse (get the point?) needs this machine!  Seriously.  Stop by and view some fabulous Silhouette projects and see for yourself what that machine can do (it goes way beyond scrapbooking) my friends!  Tell her Judy sent you.

Hurry. Contest ends 5/24/11. 
It’s a Fabulous Crafty Cutting Silhouette Giveaway!