Thursday, July 23, 2015

Writer's Workshop: Make "last" Last.

4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: last.

At this time last year, we had our family reunion. My husband's side. Lots and lots of people. Our son (my stepson... but that doesn't matter) was there.

He didn't bring his girlfriend... She didn't want to come. We'd never met her. She felt that it was too big of a step. That in her "culture" (she was Vietnamese), it was a huge deal to meet parents. Forget the fact that our son was LIVING with her and HER SON was calling him "Dad" and had even given him a Father's Day card. So... he sat in his chair. For most of the day. His cell phone on his ear. Arguing with her about what he did wrong this time. He was so occupied with her. It was really sad. He said goodbye to us all and told us he loved us. And then he left.

Little did we know.

It was the last time we saw him alive and talking. It was his last good bye.  It was his last, "I love you."

Less than a week later, he swallowed his last cocktail. It was a corrosive. It gave him his last breath on his own.

And less than a week after that horrible day, he took his last breath on a ventilator. We said our last good bye.

RIP - Jr. I know this was one of your proudest moments.
We love you and this of you every day.

Please visit Mama Kat and check out other posts. There were lots of prompts to choose from, and much happier ones, too. I'll post another tomorrow that's more upbeat... but this is where my mind was today. Sorry for the bummer...

Friday, July 17, 2015

Candy Blog Hop

Welcome to the Candy Day Blog Hop!

This Candy Blog Hop will run for 2 days. If you came from Alicia's Blog you are in right spot. But you want to start the fun at Haidee's Blog.
We are excited to have you hop with us! Each blogger participating in this hop is featuring a crafty project having to do with "candy". Who doesn't LOVE "candy"? Then we add crafty to it!!! Eckkkkk!
You will find unique ideas that have to do with candy. We hope you'll enjoy each and every project along the way. And give you some crafty ideas.

Be sure to leave a comment at each hop to show some Bloggie Love and to qualify to win a PRIZE. (Squeee!!!!) It would bee sweet if you 'follow' too.
$10 gift card. You will able to choose 1 from the 3 stores!!! One winner will win their choice of gift cards.
Now onto my project... Here's a little peek...

Even though it's been quite a while since I participated in a hop or posted crafty things... I've been busy doing just that. Most everything I've given away and forgotten to take photos. Brain drain. Ugh. But I thought... "Why not? I love sweet things... Hm... My anniversary is coming up... and I usually procrastinate and make something the day before..." So... Since it's not until October, I did the unthinkable! I did not procrastinate. It is done.

"What's done?" you may ask. Um... I not only did one card. I did two! (So that I can choose which one I like better, as the day gets closer. You know how it is...) And since my husband isn't really all lovey-dovey and romantic and sentimental... I decided to go with corny candy-themed cards.

I designed both of them in Cricut Design Space. Oh how I love this program. Well... I did, until Wednesday night. You know. When they did the "final" update. Ugh.

"Stuff" I did not design or input in any way, shape or form printed through my computer and printer. I played with it for 2 days. I gave up and decided to go "old school" on my printed sentiment (it was supposed to be printed on the card... duh...) and use Word Art. What do you know! It works. Sometimes you just have to go "retro". And thank goodness I remembered how to use it! (Keep your skills up, people!!!)

Notice the Word Art? Yeah... I had to make that work. It was originally supposed to be printed on the card, then the card cut with all these fancy-type edges via the Cricut Explore. Not happening. It was/is frustrating. But I have all the confidence in the world that Cricut is getting it together to get all the bugs out (no pun intended).

Will my husband notice? Eh... If he gets this card... probably not. He doesn't notice the little creative touches. He only notices the "wet" glue. Surprise for him this year... It will be VERY dry! (Kudos to me for getting them done WAY in advance this year!!!)

The finished project (the first one). Craft paper cardstock. LOVE this stuff. I used it for the chocolate bar (both layers), too. I inked with Tim Holtz Ranger Distress Ink in two different rich brown colors to separate the chocolate layers and Broken China for the blue, to make the Word Art pop. And I gotta do a shout-out for Crop-o-Dile! Still in love with the corner croppers... this one is "angle". (And in case you don't get it... the wrapper was supposed to be "husband"...)
Onto the second card...
I was able to flatten (so it prints the image instead of cutting multiple layers) this image ...), add text, then print and cut it. (supposed to be cotton candy. I think it looks like an ice cream cone. My 10yo got all excited... "Cotton Candy!!!!" I'm glad she figured it out.) This one worked out hunky dory.

FYI, the text is done in two blocks and rotated, through Design Space. It's the only way I could get it to do what I wanted. But no matter what... I couldn't seem to get that little "f" to come down "below the line". (If someone knows how... please let me know in the comments, or message me on Facebook, or give me a call or text, if you know me well enough to have my info! I'd really like to learn how to do this, if it's possible!!!)

Again. I love craft paper. I think it looks rather rustic. And I'm a re-type of gal.

I wasn't able to change the colors in the flattening of a subscribed image (way cheaper than purchasing all of Cricut's unlicensed cartridges and/or images). I would've created my own image and uploaded it, but... I haven't quite hopped into that yet except to work with photos in the new software. And so... to offset the pink (because the card is for a man), I again used the blue Broken China of the Distressed Ink collection. Yes... I could've made it cleaner, but I really like that brushed distressed effect. I also added the blue gingham ribbon, just to bring it out a tad more.

We R Memory Keepers strikes again. Yes... a Crop-o-Dile corner-rounder. This time in "stub". I love ticket stubs. And I definitely think cotton candy fits just that. Circus, anyone?

And here, I've popped it up a little. I have no patience for foam dots. They stick to my fingers and are a pain to peel off (from the paper AND my fingers). They don't cover a whole lot of space. And they run out... usually when I only need one or two or three more.

So... I use clear-drying caulking. Love it. And if you've ever looked at some of my other projects, you'll see I use it... a. lot. It's fabulous and streams out like a thick glue, easily controllable, and (the best part) much cheaper than the foam dots. If you are down to your last bit (which I am NEVER, as I keep stocked up on that stuff!), you can simply use a cotton swab or small paint brush to re-distribute your caulking around on your project! Win, WIN!

The finished project is above... but I just wanted you to see how the caulking adds dimension above the ribbon. So sweet!

Still not sure which card I'll give to my hubby, and what I put inside is just for us... But I have a couple of months to think about it and change my mind several times decide. It's anyone's guess at this point.

Now... I'm kinda hungry and in need of something sweet. I'll go grab me a piece of chocolate. Since it's summer, I'm stocked up on frozen Snickers! Yum!

Your Next SWEET stop is Sarah's Blog.  She's got something scrumptious created for you!
Here is a list of the line up. Just in case if you get lost:

Haidee - Created2BUnique
Alicia - Golden Goddess Designs
Lisa (that's me!) - Lisa's Little Bits
Sarah - Crazy About Cards!
Liz - Scrapilicous Life
Miranda - Nana's Scrap Spot
Connie - Connie Can Crop
Barbara - Craftin' with Barbara
Angela - 3 Crazy Monkeys by the Beach
Jessi - My Life In Arts n' Crafts

Remember... Come back to Haidee's Blog on Monday, July 21 to see IF you are the WINNER. Good luck and (blog)hop on!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Recycled from Fast Food! A Change-able Box for a Little Girl

You know how you order the family pack at a local fast food place? You know... the kind (say... Del Taco or Wienerschnitzel) that has multiples of your faves in there to satisfy your family or at least part of it... or maybe just yourself (that's me!)? I collect those. I have my friends collect those for me, too! Why?

Well, they look like little A-line houses. Or boxes. Or fun little things to put other little things in. And... they look like they have LOTS of potential. And so... I have a large stack or two sitting around my craft room, ready to go... whenever I need them.

Sometimes, I wrap them. Um... take that back. I cover them. I cut the paper to fit, so the recipient can re-use it. (Wrapping just means you fold it all over, and the recipient would have to tear it all off... Making the box back to square one and looking just like the fast-food box it started off being.)

Other times, I have a little more fun with them...

Marissa was invited to a birthday party. That's what kids do. And of course... She wanted to just throw the gift in a bag with some tissue paper or no tissue paper at all. But... I'm her mom, and I just don't do that. (Of course, not!) The birthday girl's favorite color is turquoise? Alrighty then! I had some left-over turquoise chalkboard paint that should do the trick.

And paint it, I did. Three coats of it... the red from the box kept bleeding through. So... my recommendation to YOU, if you should decide to do this: Prime it first. Then it should only need one coat of the more expensive paint.

 I had Marissa wrap the gift in tissue (that way, I rationalized it as a compromise... she got the tissue part, didn't she?) and put it in the box.
 Put a shiny pink curly-ribbon bow on (and sealed it that way, too!)
And had Marissa doodle in pink (the birthday girl's "other" favorite color).

Reusable box to last for many years that can be changed on the outside? I think so! And... since the birthday girl plays softball (and the gift was a pair of batting gloves...), it was a hit! A Grand Slam!

*** Just a Note ***

For many of you that have written to me or commented regarding my grief... Thank you. I know there are no words that are the "right" thing. And just thank you. Some of you have sent me treasures, cards, and always kind words. I really appreciate it.

This post was meant for back in December... but it didn't make it. I am going to keep trying to catch up to life and the real world, even though all this life stuff has been pretty real for me. I just keep trying to go back to what makes me happy.

I have been crafting, on several occasions. I try to take pics... it just never seems to make it to here, my blog, where you all can see. Only because a friend's post of an RRR item today made me think... "Dang... it's been quite a while!" I didn't realize it had been since JANUARY! Ugh. I'll catch up a little at a time. (Thank you, Michelle, for inspiring me to post something!)

But again... Thank you. For all your thoughts, prayers (if you pray), and for just simply coming back here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

MamaKat's Losin' It - Writing Prompt: 3. If the way you spent your New Year’s Eve is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, how would you say your future is looking right about now?

Wow. That is... A mouthful of a topic...

We don't usually have a party on NYE. We usually sit at home, have a meal (maybe In-N-Out), have a couple of drinks, casually watch the countdown and the performers on Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve, cheer, and go to bed... all in between snoozing (yes... I feel like I'm "old" sometimes...)

This year was different.

Quickie recap of 2014... We ended 2013 with the premature death of our beloved family dog, the day before NYE. 2014 was a bad, bad year. We went through a lot. Between allegations of "me" making my work environment "hostile" to death after death after death... I have never been to so many funerals or memorials in my life, all of the years put together. And we are fairly young. We are in our 40's. I won't dwell on this today.

This year IS different. We decided to have a "2014 was a Shitty Year Party And Let's Kick it to the Curb!" (There were many more expletives put in there when we "named" it, but that's the gist of it.

And so we did. We had some family and friends over. I made food. I did some frozen appetizers (which my husband wanted... he wanted the easy stuff. Go figure.). I handmade some other appetizers. And we drank, but not too much (nobody was wasted...). And we visited. And we sang. And we boogied our butts off.
Placing a Rose on the Donor Float at the Rose Parade -
What a WONDERFUL Experience
It was 1980's Old School in da house! (My husband's brother is a DJ, so the walls were vibrating...) We weren't forgetting all those we love that are now gone. We were living FOR them. We danced and laughed and waited for 2015 to arrive in our own time zone.

All of my husband's siblings were here. and... it was "nice". There was NO drama which is a frickin' miracle or fighting. It was just a good group of people together. Hoping. Wishing. Praying. For a better year.
OMG! It snowed in our little city (This was NYE morning)... It NEVER snows (and sticks...)
So, all in all... my NYE was pretty darn good. My future? This will be a GREAT year! I am determined. We are determined. This is really truly going to be a great frickin' year!
No filter. Just HOPE.
*Undernote because it's not really on the side, is it? : I'm really just trying to get back into the swing of things. Write more. Craft more. Do more, like I used to. And this... is one more step to it.


If you would like to read more or join in the Writer's Workshop at Mama's Losin' It, please feel free to click on the link and enter in. The more the merrier... Be sure to leave some comment love for everyone you visit. And thank you!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

MamaKat's Losin' It - Writing Prompt: 2) 7 best ways to spend WinterBreak

I can think of so many things to do during Winter Break! But here are the 7 BEST!

7) Grab everyone and go for a car ride. Hot chocolate in a thermos, gloves and blankets bundling up each of us, windows rolled down, singing Christmas Carols, and viewing all of the glorious lights. This is truly a magical time. And with all of the twinkling lights and positivity around, everyone can put aside the horrors of the world for just a bit and enjoy all the season has to offer.
6) Pay it forward. It's always nice to have someone random do something for you. It makes you remember there IS good in the world. Be that person. Random acts of kindness performed for others will make YOU feel good, too! Coming out of the grocery store, you see someone struggling to load the car? Stop, offer to help... but be sincere when you do it. Did you just get a $5 rebate/gift card at Target on a special deal? After checking out, hand it to the person behind you. And wish them a Merry Christmas (or a Happy New Year!). Kindness gives us a special warm spot.

5) Watch holiday movies. Loving that hot chocolate (and popcorn this time, too!). Cuddle up on the couch with your kiddos (furbabies, too!) and enjoy the holiday romance movies that are all over the tv. Don't have tv? Watch them on the computer... Hallmark or Lifetime offer many of their movies online, as well. Holiday movies are always a feel-good thing for us. I record them on the DVR and watch them throughout the break.

4) Decorate! Enough said... What you didn't get a chance to do before the break... just add a little sparkle here and there... It makes it all the more magical.

3) Bake. Bake. Bake. Not just for your holiday guests or holidays potlucks. Of course, the traditional cookies, cakes, pies, candy, breads and such... but bake a little bit extra for someone you know is over-loaded. They're sure to appreciate the treat. And bake for yourself. Make and freeze just a little extra (label it, of course!) for that day when you need a touch of Christmas, and a cookie warmed up will bring it all back to you.

2) Play catch up. The year is almost at an end... There is always so much to do. And if you're a tv junkie like me, you need the breather (when they only play re-runs). So, utilize that time to catch up on other things. Clean up that closet; go through and donate items. Catch up on your email. Read the latest (and the past things) on your favorite blogs... There are so many things to do! Catch up on them.

1) Spend quality time with your family and friends, cherishing every moment. I'm pretty sure this one is self explanatory. But... in case it isn't... PUT DOWN THAT PHONE! Only take it out for group photos. Forget the selfies unless you are making them groupies. Don't text or check your email. Don't update your status on Facebook or post to Twitter or Instagram. Just enjoy the company surrounding you. Brush up on your social skills and partake in the conversation around you. Play a family-type game (Cards Against Humanity is a hilarious game to play in a group setting... but not advisable for under age 17...). Laugh so hard you cry. Remember those you love. Try a new food together and discuss it. Don't just unwrap those gifts and set them aside. Relish the thought that went into it. Most of all... Make the most out of the time you have.

There are many other wonderful ways to spend the Winter Break... but these are the things that mean the most to me. It makes my Winter Breaks so much more lively and full of sparkle. I hope you can take one or more of them, even beyond Christmas, and make the most of it. Time is something we can't get back; we must spend it wisely.

Want to read more from other writers? Stop by MamaKat's Losin' It!. Please feel free to leave a comment, as well. Tell me what YOU do during the break!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pardon my tears (Part Seven... [the last for now]) - It's a NEW YEAR!!!!

I needed to take a little break; I'm sure you all understand. (If you don't, please refer to my most recent posts. I'm sure you will understand, after that.)

2014 was the worst year ever. First, our son. Days later, my mother-in-law...

Every month after... at least one or two people close to me. I'm only 44. My friends and people close to me that this is happening/happened to are not old! Everything (almost) is completely unexpected.

I am tired of it all. I am tired of mourning. Of fresh tears. Of opened wounds. I get that "it" will always be there but will get easier. It's just hard. The holidays especially. I cannot write how much I cried. How many tears were shed. But we made the best out of it. We did all that we could.

Me? I stayed super busy. No... I didn't get Christmas cards out. I hardly made any for 2014. I didn't do as much shopping as usual, either. Or decorating. Lots and lots of boxes stayed put in the garage for the season and didn't even get cracked open.

We even forgot to put out the stockings. Eek! Thank goodness for Elfie. He relayed messages to Santa, telling him how "out of it" we were. And that's ok.  It's ok for us to be "off" for a bit. We did put Jr's picture with the kids for the Santa photo...

I won't be posting pictures of our precious photos. Those are mine to cherish and to share with people close to me. I'm trying to stay healthy... and to deal. And so...

We threw a New Year's Eve party.

We NEVER do that. But we had such a crappy year... (it needs to be said... and last year's year end started with our beloved dog dying, and went downhill from there, ending with lots of losses). We know death is a part of life. But OMG! Give us a break. We are accepting and trying to move on. We want to live and cherish the memories, not dwell on the "what if's" and the "why's". They won't be answered.

And so we "partied". We had family and friends come over. And we had fun. We said goodbye to 2014 and kicked that awful year to the curb.

We are now here in 2015. It is a new year. A fresh start. And that is all of that. Welcome to the new year. May it be better than the previous. May we all be healthy and wise for it.

Attempting to write more often, improving myself, learning more, and being more positive are on my list for the year. I'm not saying they are "resolutions", but just something I'd like to do for myself. And if I do it for myself, it will improve everything about and around me. I need positive air surrounding me. I am going to do it.

So watch for it... Today is the second of January (I needed a recupe day, ya know?)... and I plan on being much more present this year. How about you?

And just so you know... Besides taking down most of Christmas today, I actually overhauled a full room! Fresh start! The laundry room is super fresh, now! Watch out world... HERE. I. COME!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Six)

I go to wake him. I believe this is a nightmare's continuance.

I wish I would wake up. I keep shaking my head. Is this a really bad dream?

He can't believe this is happening, But either. Has happened.

I begin making the phone calls... To his brother. No answer. To his brother's wife. She hands the phone to him, as I ask... Deep. Anguish. NOOOOOOO!!! "My mom?" "NOOOOOOO!!!!"

I then call another brother... This kills me deeply. I speak to him and tell him.

Quickly, we all get ready. I arrange to drop our 9-year-old at my mom's while we handle things at his mom's house. My other daughter and sister are going to continue on to the fundraiser... And again, we have to tell our youngest something crippling.

Remarkably, she handles it well. And I remember another ditty she said to us when we told her about her brother... She said to my husband, "You know what Mommy told me about Xanny, when Xanny died? She said it Xanny dying would prepare me for something much bigger. She was right."

Last December (less than a year ago!), our beloved family dog got really sick. We had been at our own house; it was raining outside; I had kept our pet in during a Girl Scout party. Several people brought younger children, in spite of the "rules" (Girl Scout and registered parent/adult). No worries, right? Wrong. I caught two very small children feeding my sweetheart chocolate (from the chocolate fountain... DARK chocolate from the chocolate fountain. Several. Times.) She (our dog) got really sick. Chocolate (especially DARK chocolate) is toxic to dogs. Since I didn't know exactly how much she had consumed, the vet said we'd just try to see if it passed. I hadn't taken her in right away, so the damage was already lurking... there was nothing we could do. And a little bit over a week later, she left us, howling her last breath at 3am.

I was devastated. We were all devastated. I still tear up, thinking about it...

But never in my mind, when I had to talk to our youngest did I believe I was preparing my child for the tragic death of her BROTHER! and then her GRANDMOTHER!

Bringing us back to the events here... As I leave the house, I get a text from a cousin of my husband... "Why is XXXX posting 'RIP mama' on Facebook?" [Ugh with the Facebook thing again... Granted, I just "posted" services for our son, utilizing the mass powers of Facebook and Instagram. Posting the final services for him and asking those who were tagged to pass it on to others that I may have forgotten or are not on my friends list, reaching out to as many people as possible, giving whoever would like to attend the opportunity to say their final good-byes... pay their respects... cry... have closure... whatever you'd like to call it. I consider myself a pretty fair and equal opportunity person...]

A response via text for this situation is not appropriate, in my mind. And so I make another phone call. During the conversation, it occurs to me most people ask how they can help. Holy Family! That's it. I've already been doing the whole phone call thing... I don't have that much in me now. "Please pass it along to your brothers and sisters, as well..." I ask when asked if she can help. Done.

Wonderful. Helpful family members are just that. Wonderful. I called other cousins and asked if they could do the same. We are almost to my mom's now... dropping off the youngest. My phone calls will probably continue the full ride, between conversations with my husband and bouts of tears. And they do.

We arrive at his mom's house (after dropping off the youngest). There are tons of people there. His mom is still there, lying there. Waiting for her ride away from home. After a couple of hours, the mortuary FINALLY comes. It is insane. People rush the house before she is even down the driveway.

My heart breaks. I cannot believe people are like this. I hustle people out. We will handle this later.