Sunday, September 17, 2017

Back to school - college style

Kelsey started her final (hopefully!) semester of classes at Western Kentucky University last month. She plans to finish her degree by Christmas if everything goes according to plan. I'm not sure yet what she's going to do with her double-major in Arabic and Dance, but I hope she'll have lots of options open to her. For now, I'm going to help her along in little ways like taking her to her 8 a.m. class every Thursday morning. Working three or four jobs at a time while working on her degree has not been easy for my girl, but I'm incredibly proud of her work ethic and ambition.

That's my college girl, at least for one more semester!  Go Tops; go Kelsey!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A New Stitching Project

Holding a handful of floss for a new stitching project is always something I enjoy. Aren't these colors just delicious?

When I start a new stitching project, I always begin by searching for the floss I already own, and then I head to a craft store to buy the fabric (if needed) and any additional floss colors I couldn't find in my stash. This new project of mine has an interesting collection of colors, I think.

My new project is by Etsy seller Satsuma Street - I love that shop's patterns and highly recommend that you check out their selection. This is the third pattern from their city collection that I'm stitching. I've already completed Pretty Little Italy and Pretty Little Paris; up next is Pretty Little Amsterdam. You can see that I'm off to a fairly strong start after spending a weekend feeling puny on the couch and bingeing on both Netflix and stitching.

My goal is to finish this piece by Thanksgiving. I'm not a quick stitcher and often will put aside my projects for several days at a time. I also work intermittently on small projects at the same time. For those reasons, I try not to get too caught up in how long it takes me to complete a project. I figure a couple of months will be what I need to finish up this fun Amsterdam piece. I'd rather enjoy the process than stress about a completion date anyway.

Do you stitch? I'd love to know if you have any fun projects in the works. :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More Project Life pages from Europe 2017

I initially shared some of my Project Life pages from my Europe 2017 trip with you last week, and I thought I'd check back in this week by sharing a few more of those with you. Notice that I've left some blank spaces on purpose because I want to incorporate some traditional scrapbooking elements on each page. I also want to use my own handwriting on some of these pages, so I've left space to do that as well. I'm not sure yet if I'll write directly on the background space provided or if I'll adhere some subtle patterned paper with my handwriting on it. I am looking forward to playing with that when I get the pages printed. I just placed my first print order for my PL pages, so look for an upcoming blog entry in the near future where I compare/contrast the prints from Persnickety Prints and from the PL app itself. I'm excited to get those prints and play with the pages some to finish up their final versions.

For now, you can see where I'm starting for a few pages that I made from the portion of the trip I spent with students.  Note that all of these pages have a white background for trim because I want to differentiate between my solo trip and my student trip for summer 2017.

After airing a ScrapGals podcast episode where I discussed my experience with the PL app last week, several listeners shared with me information that I had not known when I began using it.  For example, it's possible to use other kinds of cards/titles within the app if you import them using another program. I definitely plan to play around with some of these options that will give me more variety in my pages, but, for now, I'm sticking with what I have already purchased through the app and already know how to use.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Playing with the Project Life app

In light of this week's podcast, I thought some of you might like to see some of the PL pages I've started making about this year's trip to Europe.

This page will likely be the first page in my album because it features my student group as we prepared to fly to Europe on June 1st. I may add some embellishments to the page once it's printed, but I feel good about what I've shared here in case I decide not to do anything else to it.

And here's a page I made featuring Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin, Germany. Notice that this page is trimmed in a black background for now. My plan at this point is to use a different background color for each city OR to use one background for my solo travels and one for my student group travels. I can't be sure how I'll feel about that until I have some pages printed, but that's my thought process on the approach at this point. I've included some typed journaling and a title card, but I still plan to embellish this page a bit.

Here's an example of a double page layout that I made about visiting the East Side Art Gallery in Berlin. It was one of my very favorite things I did the entire trip, so I may need more pages about it. These, at least, are a beginning. Here's the left hand side of the spread.

And here's the right-hand side of the spread. Notice that I've left some blank spaces purposefully because I want to create a title card and some embellishment clusters on these pages. The biggest challenge I faced in this spread is that many of the photos I took really need to have full 4 X 6 horizontal spaces to showcase the artwork. I wanted to include many pics of the art, so I chose to incorporate a 4 X 4 divided page, but that meant that I was only able to capture key portions of the art. I reserve the right to add additional pages from this experience if I think I need it. :)

And here's another two-page spread that I created about visiting the DDR Museum in Berlin. Again, I've left some blank spaces because I want to incorporate some of my handwriting into the album and because I want to add some embellishments here. I also couldn't find a title card that I thought really worked with this spread, so I'll probably make one using letter stickers. The tones of these photos are perfect to use with some October Afternoon vintage themed supplies, so I look forward to getting to use some of those here. This is the left-hand side of the spread.

And this is the right-hand side of the spread. There was so much to see in the DDR Museum that I may have to add either a smaller sized spread between them or add another page. I'm reserving that as a possibility right now.

There are some things I really like about the PL app. It's convenient since I always have my phone with me anyway; the resulting pages are very clean and crisp looking; it's ultimately cost-effective since you can use the initial investment of the various cards over and over again. I think it would be the perfect thing to use for gift albums for family and friends for that reason. My reservations come primarily from user error issues probably. I've struggled to "get to" the photos I want to use as I'm creating a page because I have like 8k photos saved to my phone right now. (They're backed up too, but I haven't cleaned up my library like I should.)  I also worry that some of the pre-printed titles and messages don't really fit my life or experiences. And I've been reluctant to totally jump into this because I don't want to stop creating more tactile pages. I'm also kind of nervous about the weight and quality of printing the pages, but that's something I'm going to try this week and report back to you. For now, I like the ability to create pages quickly that I'm proud of and that document my stories. And leaving blank spaces for embellishments and texture feels like a happy middle-ground between digital and the old-fashioned way of scrapbooking.

Stay tuned for more pages and probably some aha moments in the future as I continue to work through my summer 2017 photos in this way!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Back at the gym

After being out of the country for around two months, I finally got around to heading back to the gym. While I was active while traveling, that's different from working out at the gym. And I must admit that recreating this habit has been really hard.

While I didn't gain back any of the weight I'd lost while I was traveling, I definitely lost strength and endurance. Because I'd been frustrated about being stuck at a weight loss plateau and because I needed something to inspire me, I acted against my normal inclinations and signed up for a session with the personal trainer. That service is included in my monthly membership at Planet Fitness, so I thought now might be a good time to take advantage of it.  I met with the trainer and we just chatted for the first session. He prescribed three workout sessions per week with 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of either abs work or weight training. None of that seemed especially surprising except when he told me that my cardio workouts had basically lost all effectiveness because I'd been doing the same thing for so long. Courtney's suggestion was to change up my cardio rotation every two weeks and to increase either intensity or weight or interval of abs/weight training every two weeks as well. Apparently, it takes your body two weeks to get used to what you're doing and to stop responding to it as effectively as at the beginning.

No, I don't intentionally dress like a ninja; I guess I just like to wear all black - haha!  I snapped this photo the day that I took an abs class with Courtney. I have to say that the moves he put me through are challenging but not impossible, and he listened to me when I told him a particular machine made my lower back hurt. I was glad that he was responsive to what I said without making me feel like a total whiner.

Another major change he suggested was that I spend several minutes stretching every day unrelated to my workouts. Courtney explained that stretching about 5-10 minutes a couple of times per day would be good for my body and for my workouts. On days that I'm heading to the gym, I also try to stretch out for 10-15 minutes before and after my workout. I have to say that stretching still makes me really sore, but it feels good at the same time. I'm trying to be more intentional about stretching every day because I know that it feels good and helps with thegeneralized stiffness that I've begun battling in the last couple of years or so.

This photos features a smiling version of me for once. I was proud of myself because I'd managed a full 20 minutes on the new elliptical-style machine that offers full range of motion rather than just a back and forth glide like a traditional machine does. The first time I tried it just the week before, I could only manage 5 minutes before I thought my heart would explode. One week later, I had improved to 20 minutes; that's pretty impressive, I think!

I still have a ways to go since I'm only about halfway to my weight loss goal. But more than the numbers on the scale, I want to be stronger and I want to live longer. I figure forcing myself to go to the gym regularly will only help me achieve all of those goals. I'm still not enjoying those sessions during them, though I will admit that I feel proud and strong when I'm finished with a workout. I haven't seen many results yet more than some tired, sore muscles and some aching joints, but I hope I will if I stick with it. Taking care of my body is an ongoing process, not a one-time season of my life. Creating the habit of going to the gym is just part of maintaining the body.

Next up, I need to take charge of my diet again. I've been eating too much junk, and I know that's not a good thing.

Where are you on this journey? Maybe I could encourage you or vice versa. :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Currently List - August 2017 edition

Star Trek: The Next Generation from the start of the series on Netflix
Game of Thrones on HBONow
Midnight, Texas via my on demand service with Spectrum

Kings of Leon (after the concert earlier this month, I'm on one of their kicks)

"Strip That Down" by Liam Payne
"Body Like a Back Road" by Sam Hunt
Everclear's Ten Years Gone and Green Day's American Idiot for a bit of nostalgic rock

Thread Painting by Febe Verbeke
The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

Necklaces of various sorts for friends
Painted pillow covers (or at least I'm going to make those)
Spirit shirts for my bestie and me (hopefully soon)

Tiny embroidery hoop stitched necklaces

"Pretty Little Amsterdam" designed by Satsuma Street

To quit picking at my fingers and toes; I've been quite nervous lately, so this bad habit has been more noticeable than it usually is

My selfies class for the October ScrapGals retreat in Nashville
Crafty goals in my creative planner (this is literal planning - haha!)
A marathon youtube video session of viewing all my faves that I haven't kept up with in the last few months

Nothing right now - I really need to change that

Weeding my landscape beds in the hope my son-in-law or some magical fairy will do it
My new workout plan that the trainer at the gym designed; it makes all of my parts hurt
Going to the grocery this week; it's just not fun

To Nashville regularly for podcasting and for the upcoming ScrapGals retreat
To Virginia to visit my dad in a few weeks (maybe???)

Cool, crisp fall weather
The start of my twice weekly adult night class that I teach

Nothing much at the moment; I think I'll prob begin cooking more as it cools off
Do avocado toast and caprese salad and frozen pizza/Lean Cuisines count as cooking? Yeah, I didn't think so.

All the white things (dresses and pants) this week as Labor Day quickly approaches; I will forever hear my mother's voice in my ear about not wearing white bottoms or shoes after Labor Day. Maybe that's a Southern thing?
My black patent leather Birkenstock sandals that I bought in Berlin all.the.time. because they're so comfy

For painting and stitching iron on transfers/patterns that are modern and fresh
For the perfect monogram stickers for my laptop and similar items
For that scent I kept noticing on others in Paris in 2015 but never found

My currently list in a nutshell -- care to share what's going on in your life at the moment?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Back to school 2017

This year marks my 24th year of teaching. Most of the time, it certainly doesn't feel like it's been that long, more than half of my life in this career. I still love what I do most of the time, though I definitely get frustrated with the administrative aspect of things sometimes. I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of my back-to-school photos from this year.

First day of school selfie in my classroom

2nd day of school selfie with the bestie (she retired more than a year ago but has returned to sub for this first semester in the English department for a colleague who left suddenly right before school began this year)

Taking a shot of the bestie so she could update her Facebook account

My student photo bulletin board is in the works

Last weekend, football season opened with the Rafferty's Bowl; I'm happy to report that the Purples opened the season with a win on 8/19.

Ours was the only school system in the area in session for the eclipse of 8/21/17. Almost 1300 students and around 100 staff members headed out to the football stadium to witness the total eclipse. I took some pics with the bestie to commemorate the occasion.

It's been an exciting start to year 24, and I'm looking forward to a great year ahead for my students and me.