Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scrapbooking Made Easy

I've recently discovered a quick and easy way to make scrapbooks...on-line. While I love to work with paper, scissors, buttons, brads, ribbons, stickers, etc. to make "real" scrapbooks, for a quick and easy feeling of success, it's hard to beat the on-line version.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Another digital scrapbooking design by Smilebox

Click to play this Smilebox photo album
Create your own photo album - Powered by Smilebox
Create a photo album

I think I'll use these digital scrapbooks as a quick and easy way to share my pictures/pages with family and friends but will still sit and create unique pages using my considerable stash of papers and embellishments and mount them in "real" scrapbook binders as I've been doing for years now. It doesn't hurt to try something new and fun though.

Always learning.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood

Today was one of those glorious bright sunny days that makes us glad we live in a winter city. The snow stopped falling, the sky cleared and the sun shone. The temperature even went a couple degrees above zero. It was great.

So, I told my daughter Amy's kids I needed pictures of them skating on the rink their dad made for them in the back yard.

First on the ice was the strikingly cool looking 3-year old Aidan, protecting his eyes with 3D glasses. He didn't last long, preferring to sit on his pushing chair rather than pushing it in front of him to help him keep his balance while skating. Bernie, the trusty St. Bernard, was there as well making sure that no humans were injured in the creation of this picture blog.

Eight-year old Kenzie showed her style. She's doing very well for one who's just been skating for one season. She knows how to glide on her skates instead of making imitation walking steps.

Five-year old Sydney is learning quickly and seems to be a tireless skater.

Bernie, busy checking up on Kenzie

...who is still doing really well.

With those toenails of his, is it any wonder that Bernie can 'skate' too. A very sure-footed dog.

Curtis decided that the ice should be a bit more clear so he came out and scraped the small layer of loose snow off the ice. Look how deep the snow in the yard is.

And here am I, with feet planted solidly on the ice, watching, laughing and taking pictures. I used to skate but I'm afraid now that if I fell down I wouldn't be able to get up again. The old knees just don't have it anymore.

And the first fall of the day goes to Amy! She had no trouble at all getting up again.

Sydney without her coat. She said it was too hot skating with the coat on. I guess it must have been. After all, it was all of 3 degrees C!

After her fall, Kenzie decided it was too dangerous for her mom to be skating, so she pushed her around on the balance chair.

Beautiful Day - Part 2.
After lunch I had an errand to run in daughter Sara's neighbourhood, so I drove by her house and saw that her front yard was still covered in pristine, unbroken snow. So I went in and demanded to know why there was no snowman out there. Charlie and Elly got excited and bundled up and out we went.
The beautiful part of a warm (relatively) day in winter is that the sun turns our ultra-cold powder snow into sticky, packy, snowball/snowman snow. I wanted to take advantage of that.
But first, the girls had to make snow angels...kind of hard to do in deep sticky snow.

Charlie's angel.

Then we got down to the business of building a snowman. Unfortunately we quickly realized that only the top inch or so of snow was sticky enough to hold together in proper snowman form so we did the best we could with lots of powder and a little sticky snow.

Yes, that's a dark spot on Elly's nose. She had been playing 'kitty' earlier and painted on a nose and whiskers. The marks should be gone by Monday. She loved being out in the snow but it's been too cold this winter for her to enjoy it. She had a good day.

Charlie and the snowman

So that was my fine winter day. It'll keep me going through the storms and cold that are sure to bless our February, part of March, maybe even April. As long as we get these lovely breaks, it's all good. Happy Winter!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Since I was 16 and had a pen pal who lived in Mesa, AZ, I've had a fascination for this state. In my high school yearbook - Class of '66 - it quotes me as saying that I plan to do a lot of travelling, especially to Arizona. Well finally in 2008 I set foot in the Valley of the Sun...and it was everything I had imagined it would be, and more. We go down now as often as we can, three or four times a year if we can manage it. We have friends down there, and a place of our own in Surprise to stay in, and are looking forward to spending the winter months down there as soon as Lloyd retires.

Lloyd could spend all his spare time down there golfing, but I prefer sight seeing so we do a lot of that too. Thanks to some bloggy friends from Arizona I'm generating a list of places to see in the Phoenix area first, and further abroad later.

Today we found another source of information on what to do in Surprise, AZ. My sister called from Winnipeg (unofficially named Winter-peg for obvious reasons) to tell us of an article she saw in their local paper. Its about a new reality show from Surprise, AZ, not unlike the Bachelor, but the participants are Seniors! It debuts tonight and we've got it recording so we can watch it after the hockey game is over.

Here's the clip Wendy sent to us:

Another raunchy reality show, but it's not teens, it's uh... seniors? - Winnipeg Free Press

I'm not recommending the show because I haven't seen it yet and it may really be too "raunchy" for us, but I figure it's worth checking out anyway. The only reality shows I watch are Survivor and American Idol so this one may be a little out of my comfort zone, but I'm attracted simply by the face that it's focussed in my home-away-from-hometown, Surprise.

I'm really looking forward to going down there in a couple of weeks, reality show or not!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stopping in the Woods On a Snowy Evening

Lloyd and I drove home from Lethbridge today - a 5.5 hour drive. During the last hour of the drive it was through what the weathermen call "light snow". Luckily Lloyd is a good, experienced snow driver so I wasn't worried about sliding off the road. To make things interesting I got my camera out (always nearby in my purse) and started taking pictures. Since the car was moving, they're slightly out of focus but I like them anyway.

The isolation provided by the snow reminded me of my favorite poem by Robert Frost (actually the only one I know of his, I think.)

This link will take you to a video of Mr. Frost reciting this Pulitzer prize winning poem.

We took the secondary highways (2-lane) home rather than the busy freeway to avoid congestion and trucks.

The tree branches were burdened down with snow that has been falling for over a week now.

The bales of hay are getting buried in the snow, becoming invisible from all buy the front.

With company like this good looking guy, the trip through the snow was a very pleasant experience. It's good to be home. It was a quick trip - down Friday evening and home on Sunday.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting Tired Of The Snow

Snow seems to be the topic of everyone's conversation these days - even the news up here in frigid northern Alberta is reporting on the snow in sunny, hot, Georgia. North America has gone snow mad. It wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to drive in it, be out in the cold, bundle up in heavy coats, boots, hats and mitts.

This is the street my daughter Sara lives on, on the right at the bend at the top of the street. It hasn't been plowed, and maybe will be once before spring thaw in March. It's up to traffic to beat the snow down. That works fine if you like ruts, bumps and streets that are a third as wide as they are in the summer. You must admit it's beautiful though. The frustrating thing is that if residents don't have their sidewalks shoveled down to bare cement within 48 hours of a snowfall the city fines them. Too bad residents can't fine the city for neglect of snowy streets. It's been tried and failed.

This is the first year for this trampoline. Do you think maybe we should have put it away for the winter? The kids love it. Lets hope there's still some spring in it come spring. Just look at that saggy bottom.

The swing set fares a bit better than the trampoline. They don't mind being buried for awhile.

Is it any wonder that skating, cross country skiing, sledding, curling, and hockey are a big part of life here. The motto seems to be 'don't fight winter, embrace it.' It'll be over in a few months and then we'll be complaining of the heat.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bloggy Books

For years I kept a hand-written journal chronicaling the everyday life of a young wife and mother of many. I remembering thinking at one time that it'd be nice if I had a picture to go with lots of the stories and events I was writing about.

That led naturally to scrapbooking which, for me, was journalling with pictures. I invested a great deal of time and money creating wonderful picture stories of our life and, by then, our grandchildren. Although I am no longer keeping a hand-written journal, I am still scrapbooking but it's rapidly becoming a case of 'so many pictures, so little time'.

And then I started keeping a blog. Everyone's blog is different - mine is mostly stories and pictures of our everyday lives, photo essays, remembrances of times past, and grandchildren. But what happens when technology changes, as it does so often these days. Will my blogs always be accessible? Does anyone even care? Well, I care, so I've started preserving my treasured memories in book form.

My daughter Sara, a blogger herself, introduced me to the concept of bloggy books. She has created 4 such books from her blog. They are now my coffee-table books at our home in Lethbridge. And they get read. Our granddaughter Layla, who was visiting from BC at Christmas sat in a big comfortable chair with the books and read the pictures (she's 6 and just learning to read) and had a wonderful time 'visiting' with her cousins featured in the book. She was thrilled to see blog entries about her in the books too. Anyway, following Sara's example, I published a book with selections from my two years of blogging. I used a family history theme and selected blogs entries that were about events and people in our family's history.

Such as pictures and stories of my family from 30 years ago, and one about me and my sister from lots of years ago.

I included the birthday tributes I did for each of the seven children.

I included my blog entry about our family reunion - our kids and their spouses and kids all together for the first time in ages - in 2008.

Also included was the blog I did highlighting our brides and grooms beginning with my parents, Lloyd and I, and our kids.

Lots of other blog entries were included which gave a taste of our lives spanning 60 years.

I had 8 copies printed - one for each child and one for Lloyd and me to keep. I consider it a treasure of memories and hope the kids do too.

Because I'll be doing another one sometime in 2011 using blogs representing a different theme.

Because it's fun and easy to do.

And because I want my kids to remember how great it is to be part of such a large, diverse group that our family has become.

The online site I used was . This blog entry is not meant to solicit business for them, but I want to give credit where credit is due.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Flying Fun

I'm getting excited about going to Arizona next week...January has been a looooong cold month and the warmth and sunshine of AZ will be a welcome break. Thanks to WestJet's direct flight, the sunny south is only three hours away.

I've become used to flying. I might even enjoy it as long as the air is still and the flight is uneventful. And then I came across this skit with John Cleese and some of his Monty Python cohorts...

Watch this video on VideoSurf or see more How To Irritate Peop Videos or Monty Python Videos

British humor is fun, if a bit on the silly side. I love the Fawlty Towers series with John Cleese and Keeping Up Appearances with Patricia Routledge. I think they're only available on PBS now. Pity.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Grandchildren Funnies

I received this bit of fun from a friend via email today and wanted to share with all you grandparents (or parents) out there. I just added appropriate pictures in some of them.

1. She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter, as she'd done many times before. After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, "But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!" I will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye.

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 62. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice,"Who was THAT?"

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like. "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods."The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, "I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!

5. My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I said, "No, how are we alike?'' "You're both old," he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor.. She told him she was writing a story. "What's it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

7. I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these colors yourself!"

8 When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, "It's no use Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights."

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says I'm 4 to 6."

10. A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, "Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today." The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. "That's interesting." she said. "How do you make babies?" "It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."

11. Children's Logic: "Give me a sentence about a public servant," said a teacher. The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder pregnant." The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. "Don't you know what pregnant means?" she asked."Sure," said the young boy confidently. 'It means carrying a child."

12. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties."They use him to keep crowds back," said one child."No," said another. "He's just for good luck."A third child brought the argument to a close."They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."

13. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the airport."

14. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good, good things, but I don't get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

15. My Grandparents are funny, when they bend over, you hear gas leaks and they blame their dog.

Grandkids - gotta love them.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year - New Look

In honor of the new year I've changed the appearance of my blog from festive red to winter blue.

I've been sitting at the computer all morning - it's now 1:33 pm - and I haven't even showered and dressed yet - truely a decadent day. Not that I don't have things to do today - I just got waylaid by this hypnotic machine. I promised myself that I'd use these few days of freedom from work to do some organizing here at home - pack up stuff for Goodwill, clear out the clutter, clean up, vacuum, and generally get things in order. I started yesterday with clearing Christmas out of my space and back into boxes. I have a long way to go with the 'cut-the-clutter' though.

You know what my problem is? It's all my husband's fault. He gave me an iPad for Christmas and son-in-law Allan showed me how to load apps on it. Specifically, books! I have a whole shelf of virtual books now and immediately started reading, for the third time, Steven King's The Stand.

I love that book and the mini-series and movie made from it. But it is so long. I find it so easy to read it on the iPad. I only put it down this morning when I got notified that my battery needed charging. It's a 10-hour battery and I've charged it twice since Christmas.

Allan also loaded 16,445 photos on it from my collections from the computer, my external hard drive and my MacBook. Unfortunately there are doubles, triples and fourples of many of them so there's a lot of editing that needs to be done. But if anyone asks to see pictures of my grandchildren!!! Boy, do I have some to show them!!!

But, it's time to put the toys away and get showered and dressed and salvage what's left of the day. Aren't vacations fun!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Auld Lang Syne - Happy New Year's - Traditions

We celebrated New Year's Day last night by eating, playing games, eating, watching TV and videos, eating, and celebrating with the televised Vancouver and Niagara Falls countdown, and eating. It was great fun. The traditional favorite, Auld Lang Syne, was sung by a woman with a beautiful voice who just sang the same 3 - 5 words over and over and called it done.

So I looked it up on the internet today and found this:

Auld Lang Syne

The song, "Auld Lang Syne," is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English- speaking country in the world to bring in the New Year. In spite of the popularity of 'Auld Lang Syne', it has aptly been described as the song that nobody knows. Even in Scotland, hardly a gathering sings it correctly, without some members of the party butchering the words.

Written by Robert Burns in 1741, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine;
we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne

We two hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne

And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

A bit too long maybe, but I like when it's sung as the first two verses above and the three last one. Just my Scottish heritage rearing it's head I guess.


While I was at it, I looked up the top ten New Year's resolutions year after year. How many of them are yours?

1. Spend more time with Family and Friends
2. Get Fit
3. Lose Weight
4. Quit Smoking
5. Enjoy Life More
6. Quit Drinking
7. Get Out of Debt
8. Learn Something New
9. Help Others
10. Get Organized

Worthy goals to be sure, but if we accomplished them we wouldn't need to put them on the list every year. Maybe we should just retire those 10 and come up with another bunch we can work on.


When we were a young family busy raising our kids, on New Year's Day we used to sit around and ask each family member what their favorite thing of the past year was, and what they would like to see happen in the new year. They'd make such wishes as "I would like to get Sara toilet trained this year", or "I'd like to move again this year", or "I'd like to get a dog/cat/bird this year", or "I want to go to school with the big kids this year", "I'm going to learn to ride my bike", etc. We'd write them down and review the list every New Year's Day and see how we did. We still have some of those lists someplace. We found them not long ago and had a good laugh and felt all nostalgic reading them.

In 1978 when our fifth child (Mike) was 9 months old and our oldest (Rob) was 6, Rob's wish was that we'd have another baby in 1979. So Lloyd and I, being generous and giving parents, got to work on his request and on December 4, 1979, Mary was born. Luckily that request wasn't made every year or we'd be overrun with kids, more than we were.

When I was a kid, New Year's Day was always the day for taking the tree down and putting all the presents away.

What New Year's traditions do you remember?


I hope you all have something good to look forward to this year and the ability to learn from the not-so-good that comes your way. It is my firm belief that the good always outweighs the bad so I look forward to pleasant anticipation to the new year.