Social media haiku

“The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.”~Richard Bach, American writer

Today was a delicious day, and it was totally media free.

It was a long drive back to Michigan yesterday, and my husband and I both took today off. I slept guiltlessly until 10:30am, getting out of bed only because I was hungry. It took a lot of effort to microwave my meal, so I stretched out on my LoveSac for a two hour nap.

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Haiku Horizons #98: Find”

At 4pm, I finally showered, ran a few errands and came home to relax with another easy-to-prepare meal. We ventured out for our annual sneak peek of the Plymouth Ice Festival at about 9pm, but tarps covered the carved sculptures to keep them as cold as possible before the 40-degree temps hit our area on Saturday. We did see some carving being done on a side street: a half-completed Norse-style dragon and a flying bald eagle. Then home for the night.

What makes this day delicious–aside from the sleep and nap–is that I didn’t touch my smartphone all day. I turned the ringer off, turned the alert volume to mute, and I left it face down on the bed until after I showered.

For almost 18 hours, I did not check email, status updates, alerts or voicemails, nor did I play any games.

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Finding myself in a haiku

It felt wonderful!

No guilt. No stress. What surprised me was that I did not feel itchy to check my phone even though I live with it connected to my hip. I was able to focus on other things around me: my husband, the TV, the blinking Christmas tree lights, the softness of the blanket, and my daydreams. I was active in our conversations and I looked out the window when we drove around. I found things to do to keep me from being bored. You know, like before there was Internet.

Have you ever unplugged from the world? How did it feel? Or why do you feel you can’t do it?

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A new year, a new #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

It’s kinda nice to get out of the house, isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s not like I’ve been cooped up all week–far from it!–but sitting in this Starbucks gives us some space to spread out. Too bad that local coffee shop in Maple Glen closed. It was charming. They started a tab for me the last time I was there. How cool was that? How dangerous was that? I wanted to show my husband, but alas. I was hoping we’d meet there, too, but this is the best we’ve got at 6:12pm.

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Happy New Year in Philly

Happy New Year! How did you spend yours? My husband and I were crossing the highway hand-in-hand when everyone tooted horns and yelled out windows. We made it to Sugarbush Casino to see the fireworks over Philadelphia. Much warmer than last year, and this spot in Philly is easier to get to. Maybe you’ll be in town to join us?

My gosh, a worldwind week: shopping in New York City; train ride from New Jersey; craft stores in North Wales here; mall shopping at King of Prussia and here in Montgomery Mall; coffee shops everywhere; and so much more. The weather was great all week.

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Believe in the magic of Christmas and window displays

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Celebrating in the City and beyond

It was in the 40s when we were in the City, perfect for walking around. Times Square was the most crowded, maybe because some streets were already blocked off for the ball drop the next day. The Macy’s window displays were creative. The bookish geek in me adored the Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus display, but the Charlie Brown animatronic windows were divoon. My favorite was the Red Baron one with Snoopy decorating his dog house in lights then taking off into the sky among fireworks. The way the curtain of clouds revealed the story made everyone gasp.

We found some fun Starbucks Christmas tree ornaments and exclusive Times Square mugs. It rained only as we got to Penn Station for the train home, and of course we got roasted nuts. No trip to the City is complete without nuts.
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The Penn State bowl game yesterday was a loss, but it wasn’t. My husband and I watched the game with the Montco Penn State Alumni Chapter. They hosted it at a bar and provided free appetizers. The final score was 24-17 Georgia, but our team came back with two 4th quarter touchdowns to make it a game at the end. It all came down to the last play of the game, and it was a real effort. No one gave up, and we don’t feel bad about the outcome. Okay, we hoped they would win, but the soul and the spirit that the players showed was enough for me to feel proud about it all.

I did get some writing done, as well as some writing organization. I didn’t touch Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks once I chose not to publish by December 31, but I did some blogging, some planning for blog and writing time, and I’m catching up on my much-neglected social media.

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Lucky the puppy flops on the stairs waiting for head and tummy scritches

It’s strange that people are going back to work tomorrow, but we’re still on vacation until Wednesday. Not that I mind. It’s been nice visiting with my in-laws and the puppy. Eat, nap, scratch, eat, sleep…oh, the life of a dog. I feel like that today since I’m sleeping in tomorrow.
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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t, and I don’t intend to. It’s complicated but really simple: I don’t want the pressure. I’m being kind to myself that way, but that’s why this whole writing-planning thing is important. I’m setting goals and striving towards them, which is different than “resolutions.”

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Together time: he whooped my butt in air hockey

It’s been all about food. There was brunch last Sunday, pizza from another delicious hole-in-the-strip-mall Italian restaurant here, more pizza in the City, homemade lasagna, Wawa subs and…. Let me say that I’m looking forward to getting home if only to eat “normal” food and exercise on my WiiFit.

It’s really been all about family. And the puppy. My husband and I had together time, we talked with his folks around the dinner table a few nights, we played with the puppy, stuff like that. His folks are getting older, so it’s good that we make these times to be together. Make no mistake, I wasted many hours playing games on my phone and watching YouTube videos, but we were here in the house with them. Sometimes just being is enough.

Care for more coffee or tea? There’s free in-store refills for Starbucks Gold Card members, and I have yet to hear what you’ve been up to. How was your week?

A #WeekendCoffeeShare about Christmas, writing and out-of-town family

If we were having coffee…

It’s nice here, isn’t it?

My in-laws take us out for brunch every year at the William Penn Inn here in…is this Lansdale? Chalfont? North Wales? Oh, I always forget the town, but I do remember the food. And the family. This year it’s just the four of us, and you, of course.

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I thought I’d be too tired to eat after the drive yesterday. My husband drove this time, and I was surprisingly awake most of the way, just dozing a bit through central PA. Going across I-80 instead of the turnpike saved us about $37–one way! We’re going back that way for sure, but not for another week. We’ve got all sorts of plans: shopping, the City, of course more puppy time, maybe even a movie.

My husband was on vaca all last week. Me, I finished up work and still spent Christmas Eve finishing wrapping presents. Of course, we saw the Star Wars movie on Christmas Eve Day, and it was as good as all the hype. Are you one of those last minute gift-wrappers, too? No matter what I do or how I plan…. Well, the movie was worth it, as well as the writing.

Oh, didn’t I tell you? I planned to make some progress on my latest Jimmy the Burglar book, and I accomplished that in a solid rough-sloppy second draft. I threw in an additional conflict and tied in this one sock element with a new twist. I feel so clever! I’m having fun writing this book, and I’m working this week to get Jimmy out into the world by Dec 31st so I have a book to enter in the NFPW contest.

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It’s not as crowded in here today as past years. It’s still festive with the green trees and white lights and red ribbons. White tablecloths and flowers on the table make this feel so casual while being formal. The food’s just as good–are you getting seconds? I am. The eggs, French toast and hand-carved ham are especially good today. The Peach Nectar Ambrosia is quite good; I’ve never had champagne with breakfast, but I’m feeling festive.

I’m going to get a sampling of desserts? Want some? Be sure to ask for another refill of coffee. I want to hear about your week.

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Resolve to Be the holiday

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”~H. Jackson Brown, Jr., American author

‘Tis the season for rushing and reminiscing.

Who made plans last year? Who set goals for 2015? Who followed through on any of them?

I had a 33% success rate on my Non-Resolutions writing commitments with my Deadwood Writers Group.  That’s not bad.  I don’t feel the least bit guilty.  In fact, I’m excited–totally thrilled–that I accomplished #3.  That has helped me relax a lot.   You can read about my thoughts and refocusing here.

I like Mondays these days.  I have a great work schedule with a solid chunk of writing time smooshed between my two shifts.  I plan and write future blog posts; I catch up on some social media; I edit my book(s); plus, I drink coffee and tea, and occasionally I get a warm pastry.  All I hear from people is that their schedule is outta whack, that they can’t do their normal things because they are rushing around doing everything else.  Hey, I’m not caught up on shopping or wrapping, but this time here–from 12noon until 4pm–is a space that I guard tightly.  I look forward to this every Monday.  I refuse to give it up for anything less than a true emergency.

Routine is important, especially during these rush-n-fuss holidays.  I learned that when I first taught Zentangle classes.  The freehand art form is relaxing and distressing, everything we need at this time in December, but we tell ourselves that there’s no time to relax. There are Important Things to do, yet this is the exact time when we need to stop and breathe.

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He baked cookies for me

I come from a small family, so perhaps I don’t get the self-imposed pressure.  Would anyone really miss the homemade pie?  Would people be disappointed with store-bought greeting cards rather than handmade ones?  Yes, these friends and family members might, but they’re also the first people who would support you in your time of stress.

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He supplied snacks for last weekend’s crop at Casa de la Hirsch

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I was up late last night–or early this morning, whatever your point of view–finishing our Christmas newsletter.  I fell behind in social media and blog post planning.  Email is more under control, but still an obnoxious number to wade through.  My husband took it upon himself to do the final newsletter edit and get the double-sided, full-color document printed at Kinko’s.  He jumpstarted the assembly line of addressing and signing Christmas cards.  I’ll be stuck licking the envelopes, but he has supported me with only one nudge to finish the newsletter by today.  He has not interrupted my precious writing time.  He knows I need this.

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The holidays are not about food or presents; they’re about the gifts we give to each other and ourselves. Be understanding. Be helpful. Be relaxed. Be relaxing. Not everybody’s Monday is likeable or anticipated, so be the Friday that people look forward to.

A festive #WeekendCoffeeShare and time management

If we were having coffee…

Here, let’s sit at the dining room table. I finally cleared it off enough that we can use it. There’s room for our musical snowglobe now, my husband’s favorite decoration. Shall I plug it in? The plastic snow blows around as the music plays.

**Music, music, music, the kind that sticks in your head all day.**

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The “front” of my ornament

We put up our tree earlier this year. I always decorate in multi-color lights, and there always has to be a strand or two that blinks. Mom decorated the tree like that when I was little. It’s so fun. Solid white lights are blinding and unimaginative.

How’s your Christmas shopping going? For me, it’s a busy and I’m-still-behind holiday season. But I’m not stressed, not at all. I just finished this Christmas ornament for my Altered Book Club’s exchange tomorrow. See the bling? That’s all jewelry I’ve picked up at yard sales. It’s double-sided, too. Do you like this orange plastic-bead side with Christmas sheet music or the other side with the earrings as the hook and the pearl-diamond deco?

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The “back” of my double-sided ornament

I haven’t wrapped any gifts, let alone shopped for them. I know what I’m getting my husband, just as soon as he leaves the room…**whisper whisper whisper**

Next week at this time, we’ll be — **breaks out in sing-songy voice** — on the road again…to his folks for the holiday week. He’s looking forward to seeing their puppy, Lucky. Me, I’m looking forward to a cataonic state of shopping in AC Moore. Have you ever been? No? Take the best of Michaels and Hobby Lobby, and then throw in some stuff you’ve never seen before, and you’ve got AC Moore. I’m going to see if they carry any unique stuff for my Happy Planner. Let me show you. I’m using up old scrapbook papers and stickers my husband bout me. Isn’t it fun?

It makes me happy to look at, and the to-dos don’t feel so oppressive. It feels good to see what I’m thinking, and to work within my schedule and plan and make sure I don’t steer off track any more than I am. I’m going to scrapbook more and finish my husband’s annual calendar when I’m cropping with my friend next week.

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My socks match the tree.

We have to cut today short because my husband and I are going out to our annual dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. This kicks off his vacation and officially starts our holiday season.  Have a great weekend.  I’m glad you stopped by.

Remember December

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

It’s the middle of the month. Right about now, resolutions are falling faster than snowflakes.  Mine have been sidetracked by one nasty, lingering cold. Now is a good time to reflect on the past.

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I’ve been doing a December-Photo-a-Day project since 2007. Great memories. Every year it’s amazing what I do that’s new. It’s fun to see the events that have become traditions and how those same events have changed. My Deadwood Writers Group is one of those. We have a holiday party the first week in December, and I insist–dare I say “force”?–that we do a group photo. The size of the group has grown, yet some faces are the same since that first year. My husband and I always see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen at Penn Theater in Plymouth. My compositions of the photos are interesting to compare.

It reminds us, especially during the busiest of seasons, to stop and appreciate what’s around you. To remember.

That is different than my Photo 365, which has turned into a year-long adventure.  Here, as in other months, I was with friends, I played Yahtzee and wrote in coffee shops, I created art and I played with Zentangle.  Unique to this month was that I published my third book, visited family out of town and hugged a long-time college friend, discovered new used book stores, and had a tooth filled in the Fun Room at my dentist’s new office.  My husband cooked me breakfast, a Tweet of mine was favorited by a famous TV show actor.  I cheered the Nittany Lions and celebrated victory from Yankee Stadium section 409 when Penn State won the Pinstripe Bowl.

What do you remember from December?

All Things Creative once more

“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”~Mark Twain, American writer

If it’s the second Wednesday of the month–and it is!–then it’s time to submerge yourself in All Things Creative.

This month’s theme was Winter Wonderland, which is something no one in Michigan wants to think of now that the horrid winter of 2014 has passed us by. Still, it’s great to learn how the cards were made.

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Love that snowman!

One person combined brads and cork to make a “Christmas in July” tree. One woman used the Found Poetry technique to create a snow bird postcard. Someone combined fuzzy velvet paper and diecuts to make elegant snowflake cards. Another artist tore papers to create snowmen and colorful backgrounds.

I also used snowmen in my ATCs. I combined a light blue snowflake ribbon with some winter word scrapbook paper. I added rubber stamp images of my go-to trees stamp, and I finally opened my set of Tim Holtz Mini Blueprints stamps. The snowman and snowflake were perfect. Add a sparkle of Stickles for highlight, and these are my masterpieces. They’re cool.

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Embossing experimentation in my art journal

Tonight’s technique was embossing. I’ve dabbled in this, but I’m no expert…although I’m closer to being one now after tonight’s lesson. I made a “cheat sheet” of the different effects produced by each, what I call, “adhesive medium.” The Zig embossing pen draws thin, detailed lines. Versamark and Verafine ink pads add levels of detail that an embossing dauber does not. Using clear embossing powder on top of black pigment ink creates a different darkness than using black power with a clear embossing pad. After my cheat sheet was complete, I played with a few powders in my journal. The holographic powder mesmerizes me. I see a craft store purchase soon….

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UTEE and Angelina fabric: Yowza!


The most fun, by far, was using UTEE. I never used Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel before because I thought it could only be used in a melting pot. I discovered the thick crystal powder could be melted with a heating gun. It makes sense now. One embossed UTEE layer produces a pebble effect, much like raindrops on a window. Two layers is sturdy enough to smoosh a small coin or object into it. Three coats smooths the overall look with or without items. An Angelina fabric finale, and everyone loved the look I produced melting the fibers into the UTEE.

I’m the Demo Diva next month to teach the technique of making artist trading cards with doors. We also get to play with Washi tape for the monthly theme. Fun times ahead.

Zentangle Anniversary and the story of the CZTs

Three years ago, I became a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Woot!

I think this is the perfect time to explain about my CZT Guys. They think so, anyway. It’s long overdue, and they are fumpy that I haven’t told their story yet.

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A tangled flag welcomed us in Whitinsville

I’ve always been into stuffed animals. Yes, I had a Barbie as a kid, but I didn’t like dolls in general because their faces and bodies were made of hard plastic, and that was not good to cuddle with. Stuffed animals were soft and squooshy. Much better for nighttime snuggles. More socially acceptable as companions as a female grows up rather than a doll. Stuffed animals were just cute.

And most of them smiled. Happy and furry is a good combination. I had a lot of stuffed animals growing up, at least one new buddy every year under the Christmas Tree, per Mom’s insistence.

This love of fuzzy critters continued into college and adulthood. It carried over with some boyfriends–some, not all. And then I met my future husband.

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Peaceful Zen scene near the workshop

He embraced stuffed animals as he did me. He was, and still is, a good listener, and he picked up on my college desire for a Snuffles teddy bear. I had mentioned this to past boyfriends, but none of them got the hint. On our first trip together to Penn State, he bought a smaller Snuffles bear–a Snuff–from the Penn State Bookstore on campus while I was browsing elsewhere. And so began our collection of Guys, “Guys” being a gender-neutral term that simply identifies one of ours from just any ordinary stuffed animal.

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Soon to graduate from the CZT6 certification workshop


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Work can be a lonely place at times, stress-full or slow, busy or mundane.  My husband and I both wanted a reminder of each other during the workday.  It’s like an unexpected phone call just to say “Hi, I’m thinking of you.”  I sewed him an apple-sized bear to keep him company while he traveled on business. He found an even smaller Snuggles bear (we named him “Snufflet”) to keep me company while I worked at the University of Delaware. The pink fish, Finse, well…he joined my office crew soon after, and the two of them have been with me at every job I have worked.

I often snuck a Guy or two into my husband’s suitcase when he traveled, just as I would any love note or I’m-thinking-of-you card. He did the same for me.

Which leads us to the Zentangle workshop.

Of course, Snufflet and Finse were coming along. Office Guys and all. Work hard, play hard. They always travel with me. I made sure they were snuggly in my purse next to me on the plane.

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The CZT 6 with their collaborative tile. From bottom right, clockwise: Snufflet, Finse, Purrz, Catnap, Greybar, and Thistle.

Unbeknownst to me, my husband had tucked two Guys into my suitcase and two more into my carry-on. I arrived in Whitinsville, MA with six Guys. I was certified in the sixth CZT class. I’m a CZT6. They are the CZT 6.

You will always find CZT Guys with me when I teach. There’s usually two of them, working in tandem to help instruct the students. And to eat the class chocolate. Let’s not forget about the chocolate.

They often eat so much that they are stuffed.

Happy St. Tangles Day to you

“It’s not easy being green.”~Kermit the Frog, TV and movie celebrity

It’s Monday. The snow is melting. There is actually some green grass under all that kicked-up, street-brown snow.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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CZT Guys Finse and Snufflet Dance

I think this first snub at that punky Punxy Phil’s ominous forecast makes me cheerful. I wish I’d been less down-dooby-doo-down-down for last week’s Zentangle Challenge. The thought of lines upon lines upon lost lines coincided with a snow spiral, and I was gloomy for no particular reason. I’m clearing photos off my camera (still), and I wish I’d found this one last week. Not only was this Zentangle Challenge #100 completed in the coffeeshop Espresso Royale–the only best part of University of Michigan–but the art is tangled in the journal sent to me from Laura as part of the Blog Friendship Cup. The photo and the memory itself makes me smile and would have put me in a better frame of mind.

I’m not Irish; I’m German descent on both my parents’ sides. I don’t look especially good in the color green, although I can stylishly pull off a fantastic forest-y green at Christmastime. Green bagels look moldy. I know no one, male or female, named Pat. To top off the morning, I don’t like beer except when it’s battered in bread. Hmmm…it’s been awhile since I baked…okay, back to the post, which just demonstrates that I don’t have a reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Until now.

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Zentangle: green mania!

The Diva’s Zentangle Challenge #159 celebrates the occasion with a St. Patrick’s Day-inspired Zentangle. I was feelin’ lucky, so I took inspiration from the idea of a four-leaf clover. If you look, you can see it. And if you look, you can’t see it. Love that duality! It’s another excuse to dance with my Derwent Inktense pencils, and I created a wash of just about every green color I had, shading with the dry pencils afterwards.

Mentioning both “coffee” and “clover” above makes me think of the Starbucks reserve blend coffee blends and the Clover brewing process. I didn’t go out for coffee today, but I do hope the baristas did not color it green.

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