Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013

Finally got an answer to yesterday's challenge which was to add some new crunch to our salads. I'm adventurous with my salads already so I didn't know if I could think of a thing. Then I saw a show on PBS where they were adding apples to a salad in a whole new way. Although I've added apples to a salad before, for our Sunday lunch, I julienned the apples (the thin strips added a whole new level of texture and crunch), added the last of the smoked turkey, green peppers, chopped onion, celery (that's a new one in the salad for me...except for chicken salad), walnuts, a bit of bacon (low fat, lean bits from Hormel), carrots and romaine. I then did something I hardly ever do but I think I will make a habit of, I made me own dressing and then did something I have never done before, I tossed the salad with the dressing....and we loved it!!! I will do this from now on, not only will I know what is going in our bodies (no chemicals) but I used far less dressing and every ingredient was lightly coated. It was definitely good and something I now plan to make a habit of. We've always been salad eaters but we were talking yesterday about making one week a month, salad month and having nothing for dinner all week but salads.

I got some good news on Friday. I was "double scoped" and discovered some interesting things. All of my tummy problems have been caused by a lot of tummy ulcers. That is good news because it brings not only an explanation but hopefully, a cure. Also, no damage found from Celiacs so that probably means that I'm just gluten intolerant like 78% of the population. It also means that, although I will continue to be cautious and watch what I eat, I no longer have to worry that a small amount of gluten or the rare splurge is going to kill me. I might be uncomfortable for a while but no permanent damage to my body. No, I discovered that I'm healthier than I deserve to be and it's time I stop taking that for granted.

Yesterday, I set up a new blog.....I know you're thinking that I don't keep up with the too many blogs I already have. But honestly, this blog is a good idea. I've decided to make 2014 the year of artistic growth for me. I'm just finishing up my little to come soon!!!.....and I'm ready to get started making art once again. I thought that this online diary would not only help motivate me but also chronicle my growth. I'm not only anxious to get started but looking forward to the end of another year so I can see how well I've done.

Okay, I have work to do this Monday....which is a good thing, three orders to get out the door...yay! I had better get down to the challenge at hand, name a way you save on toiletries. I buy tissue paper and paper towels in bulk....I know, those aren't officially toiletries but they are used in the same room. We also buy the large containers of hand soap at the discount store. I do try to buy our other items on sale but I'm picky about the brands I use with shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste. I have bought our toothbrush heads for the electric in bulk...not always a great idea because some of them didn't work. We use a water flosser so that is saving. I'm interested in reading the tips everyone else posts. I'm hoping I learn some new ways to save money.

Have a great last week of the year, everyone! I know this hasn't been the best year for many of us but we are about to began a new journey with loads of possibilities!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Smoked Turkey Salad

Salad made with leftover smoked turkey, julienned tart apples, chopped green peppers, sweet onion and celery, walnuts, and slivers of carrots tossed with romaine and a homemade dressing....yummy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

List 3 healthy snacks you can reach for in the evening, such as fruit, nuts, or popcorn.

ahhhh, I needed to be reminded of this one. With all of the rush and hubbub of this time of year, my diet has become a mixed bag of very healthy combined with very...very...very bad. Yesterday, I ended up talking with a friend until late and then deciding I wasn't sleepy and would watch TV for a while. I also had eaten very little for dinner and so was hungry. I had peanut butter and rice crackers....not so bad but not so good either especially that late at night! I'm going to have a load of New Years resolutions this year. The only problem with that, I see my doctor on the 6th and I know she is going to expect the needle on the scale to have gone down significantly over the last three months not risen to new heights.....yikes.......sooooo, my three healthy foods to reach for? 1) raw veggies either by themselves or with a yogurt dip. And occasionally forgo the carrots for other vegetables like sliced turnips or cauliflower. 2) I don't think peanut butter is a bad choice especially just a little bit since the protein will stop your hunger faster. Instead of the rice crackers I used last night, why not celery or an apple? 3) Finally, I have to say the popcorn. I love popcorn but I don't eat it very often. Try making it in the microwave. There are bowls made for that that are just dandy. Then spray it with a buttery cooking spray just so your seasoning will stick....yummy. :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Everything Old is New Again!

Today's DHC Challenge:

Share how you saved money by buying an item used rather than new.

Up early working and it feels good. I'm making so much progress on my house and other projects lately. I have orders to get out with my work which is something I haven't had in plural for a while now....darn, dipsy doodle economy, lol. And I have the perfect answer for this challenge question.... I've been working hard to revamp my office/studio. I started this project a long while ago and then it just stalled. Things began to pile up into a disorganized mess and I never seemed to have the energy or enthusiasm to tackle it until now. I'm very proud of me because I've been working hard for several weeks and now, I've finally reached the end of this journey. There are still some things to do but today, I'm working on my first work in my new digs. I'm hoping to paint some shelving, my work bench and drawing/drafting table this weekend and then this will be the room I've dreamed of for so long. It's a small room but is bright and cheerful and now, free of clutter and organized....yay, me! So, today's challenge brings me to one of the last projects I'll do but one which is definitely saving me money. I wanted a stool to sit on at my drawing table. I looked on line for the best bargain, went to and found several possibilities but I kept thinking that the price tag, even discounted, was still more than I'd like to pay for what might turn out to be a "pig in a poke" (good ol' descriptive Southern saying.) Everything looked a bit spindly and not worth the asking price.Then I remembered an old wooden stool I'd bought years ago to refinish and sell that was still sitting in my basement. It was missing several rungs that I'd planned to replace in an "artful, creative" way but it was still solid wood and extremely comfortable. I found it in the basement, covered with spider webs and brought it upstairs where I sat down on it and discovered that it was very comfortable, perfect for long hours sitting in front of that table. Currently, it is the ugliest shade of gray I've ever seen but when I paint it and add new decorative rungs to replace the missing ones, it will be perfect. Not only will I have saved a hundred dollars or more but I will have something that is special to me that I can use and enjoy every!

Hey, just thought of something else in this room that I'm revamping instead of buying new, the furniture....all of it! I looked at shelves and those in my price range were either   cheaply built or ugly or both. Then I remembered the shelves my husband built for me when I was selling retail. Like the stool I talk about above, they were being used in the basement but after taking some measurements, I discovered that two of those units would fit perfectly with a computer table he also built for me which is being turned into my workbench (it is also very sturdy and large.) So, I'm repainting all of that. An ugly old chair which will provide extra seating in here, I will make a nice slipcover for that matches the rest of the decor. And then there is my drafting table which is small but perfect for this room that I have had since my college days....ancient.....I plan to repaint it this weekend, too. And my current and permanent desk in here is an antique library desk complete with lion head drawer pull and metal claw feet! It could use refinishing, too but I kind of like its bumps and bruises and battle scars. It reminds me a lot of myself, lol.

Photos of the finished room and stool to come!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How NOT to be a Wedding Photographer

Several months ago, I was convinced by a friend....I hesitate to put I decided because I was really railroaded into it...... to start photographing people as well as horses. I know that most of the time our friends, our true friends, have our best interests at heart when they make suggestions like these but it's been my unfortunate experience, that these suggestions usually end badly. The "people" photography is a prime example. It started off well enough, with high praise for the work I did but I was having a problem getting bookings. My sister told me that my prices were way too high (compared to J.C. Penny where she always gets the grandkids' photos and is well satisfied with them) and I'd never make it. My prices were half the price of any other photographers out there especially the ones doing location shoots like I was. So, when the chance came to book a wedding, I jumped at it. It sounded perfect... it was a small, outdoor wedding and the bride was mature so I wasn't expecting a bridezilla. I was right about the bride, she was very sweet but I was still awake and sick the entire night before the big day. I suddenly remembered why I stopped doing this when I was younger, the pressure to get it right and not make any mistakes is just too great. Well, the bride didn't book until a few weeks before the wedding so I didn't require her to follow the rules and pay me at least half in advance despite the fact that I was only charging her 300 for the shoot (way more than half the price of other photographers but I figured it was my first so I'd cut her a break). Despite my anxiety, the wedding shoot went off without a hitch. I stupidly told her that she could wait until after I finished the edits to pay for the shoot and also told her that I'd have the photos within two weeks for her to view (obviously she'd never dealt with a photographer before or she would know what a gift both of those statements were.) So, I start working on all of the edits but this was also during the last two weeks of my best friend's life so I was away and terribly distracted most of the time. Two weeks and two days later, my best friend was laid to rest and the very next day, even though I didn't feel like it, I finished up the edits on 149 photos (!!!) and posted them online for her to view. The bride complained to the wedding planner that I was late! It will be obvious how ridiculous that is when I tell you that the wedding was in late August and I finally received a very small order of prints (it has dwindled down) and a promise of payment last night. Evidently, the bride has never dealt with a photographer before and evidently, did not check with any other photographers before contacting me. She loved the photos, everyone loved the photos. I captured the intimate moments that she asked for and I am known for..... I've found that I can bring the best out in the people I'm photographing even if I do say so myself. She started out wanting a dvd and a ton of shots and asking for a deal....of course. After I quoted her just 650 for all of that and the initial shoot, she waited another two weeks and the order dwindled to 5 small photos and I'm hoping, the initial 300...or she's not getting her photos. I'm through with weddings, I've learned my lesson. I've completely removed the option from my website and I've now removed the bride's gallery and the wedding video from my page and from youtube so she doesn't get the benefit without paying for it. I worked hard on those photos, I did a good job and then I spent an entire day just putting together that video she'd said she definitely wanted. She's said that she will get the check off to me pronto....a check for 380 (which dwindles down once I pay for photos and shipping and all of my other costs + Uncle Sam's cut....oh, and the worry over ever getting paid) for over 40 hours of edit work; payment of which has been delayed for nearly four months. This "great idea" my friend had was definitely not worth it. I'm back to working on my art and now jewelry....which in a few short weeks has already made me more than the wedding and all these months of stress. So, if I ever make the mistake of agreeing to shoot another wedding, please just go ahead, shoot me and put me out of my misery!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The List

Lists are the bane of my existence. I've been making them for most of my adult life and I've yet to conquer or complete them. Instead, I end up, at the end of the day, feeling defeated and discouraged and often as if I'm never going to dig myself out of this mountain of tasks and obligations.

Yesterday, I was taking care of the horses when, totally unprompted, I received the sweetest horse kiss and affection from Django. I realized how happy I was in that moment and I also realized how seldom I feel that way any more and I suddenly asked myself, why?

I've talked before about the vast difference I felt between how some people have perceived my life and what the reality actually was. It's always been this way and the sad part is, the life they imagined I lived was the one I so desired. The life of the artist, living with the animals she loves and a husband who is both loving a supportive, while creating wonderful whimsical, spirit lifting art and constantly happy. That person would find the time each day to wander out the door and explore the outdoors or just spend time with her horses or walking with her dog. That person would always be cheerful and happy. Sigh............. Instead, I've spent most of my life feeling miserable because I couldn't live up to that standard. I was too busy, too covered up with things that had to be done to have any fun, any joy in my life. Somehow though, I was always behind, no matter how hard I worked. Somehow, I was always in debt and worried about money not matter how many ways I tried to make money. Somehow, there was never time for my horses, my dog, my husband, myself but I had time for others...others who sadly not only didn't appreciate my efforts but were ready to turn on me at the least infraction, the tiniest breaking of the rules that they'd established and I doggedly followed.

So, that has been my least until yesterday's epiphany brought on by the touch of a gentle, fuzzy muzzle. I suddenly realize that I actually already possessed all of the elements that make up that happy artist's life described above. All it took was a different mindset and a decision to do what makes me happy. Your state of mind isn't determined by what you earn or what you owe, what you own, where you live or what you wear, how educated or successful or popular you are. None of those things determine whether you are happy or miserable because either is a conscious choice.

So, I realized three things and made three decisions based on those epiphanies: 1) whether I'm happy or miserable is a choice so I choose happy, 2) worry never accomplished anything and neither does a list so I've reevaluated my goals, my expectations and my daily list, and finally 3) doing something I hate to try and make money wasn't making me any more money or paying off my debts any faster than doing something I love. I can be broke and miserable or broke and happy but either way, I'm still in debt and broke so I might as well be happy!

And speaking of that last thing, as many know I started doing "people" photography this year in an effort to make some extra cash. Well, aside from the fact that I still haven't been paid for the last wedding I shot, I literally hated every moment of it. It makes me so nervous that I actually get physically ill before every shoot....especially weddings. And by the time you add in all of the hours editing and fooling with clients who keep changing their minds and not paying, I made practically zilch. But that is still dwelling on the money thing when what I want to talk about is the happiness thing. I felt as if God or the universe was trying to tell me something. It seemed that everyone was asking me the same thing, "Do you enjoy doing that?" Even total strangers, when asking what I did, would add the question. Not only had they never asked that about any other creative endeavor of mine but they never asked me if I made money at it only was I happy doing it. My dear friend Candis passed away on September 5th. Two weeks before she passed, she asked me, "Do you enjoy photographing people?" I honestly told her, "No, I don't . I actually hate it. I dread every time I have to do it." "Well then," she asked, "Why are you doing it?" She added, "At our age, Sande, we shouldn't be doing anything that we do not enjoy, anything that doesn't bring us extreme pleasure and satisfaction. Life is too precious." She told me this when her own life was no longer measured in years but in hours and yet, it has taken over three months for her message to soak through my thick skull.

This week, I finally started doing something I've been intending to do for over a year, I started making jewelry. I put up a hand carved bracelet on my facebook page on Monday night and on  Tuesday, I sold four! That may not sound like a lot to anyone else, basically a little less than $100 made in one day once Etsy and PayPal get their cuts especially since I still have to make the bracelets but to me, that's the most I've made in a day in quite a while....certainly this entire year. And it isn't just that great response, it's that I'm getting paid to do something I love doing again. So, in a year full of epiphanies, this was a big one. I feel like I've taken another road in my life and it's a beautiful journey.
Mouse constantly amazes me with her reasoning powers....especially where food is concerned. I have two small shelters for them to get out of the weather but still haven't gotten the large barn I was promised nine years ago...hint, hint, Steve Elkins. With a barn with individual stalls, I could easily separate them at feeding time. As it is, Mouse and the three boys go into the round pen to eat while Brandy eats her massive meal (their ration is measured by handfuls and hers by pounds) in a huge round pan outside of the pen. You know the others have taken notice of this, especially Princess Mouse. Today, I was shocked when the three boys all agreed to go into the round pen without encouragement. There was a reason, the protagonist in the usual meal time drama and conflict is the Mouse. Riley is so intimidated by her that he waits until she is busy eating before he'll even consider going into the same small space as her. But today was different because Mouse was the one and only who refused to enter the round pen. Instead, she walked down and stood in front of Brandy's bowl and looked at me with this sweet, innocent look that reminded me of the look I'd give my mom every year around this time when I was trying to procure a seat at the big people's table. Mouse had decided, if she just looked innocent enough and as if this were normal enough, I'd screw up and give her the Brandy sized helping. She was wrong but I thought it was a valiant and praise worthy effort, hahaha.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

 It's been one of those weeks for me. You know the kind, where it seems everything that can go wrong does and all at the same time? It's not  any major problems thankfully but it is what feels like a million little ones. Last week at this time, I had a list. It was a very long list of things I wanted to accomplish in the next seven days. I had all sorts of confidence in myself but I forgot to factor in Murphy's Law which has been in full force this past week. I won't go into the irritating details but there was enough distraction and so many interruptions that I accomplished very little on that list. So, here I sit at the end of yet another week to be disappointed in myself for how little I've gotten done but I've decided not to think of it as the end but the start of another week. And this is a new week which is full of possibilities and opportunities for us all to grow, learn, and fully live our lives. I also think I will resolve to stop writing lists, they are just proof of disappointment waiting to happen. :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My first offerings from my jewelry designs created from my own original art. The art work is framed in metal and glass. I will be using stones, metal, leather, tokens, totems and trinkets to create unique, wearable works of art. I have lots of ideas and should be adding new designs to THE STORE steadily over the next few weeks.
Back of pendant contains the quote,
"And thou shalt fly without wings, and conquer without sword, oh horse."

Sail on Silver Girl

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.

Angel Feathers

Feathers are a reminder that our Angels are always near and watching over us. This is an example of my custom made, just for you, memory pendants. These two by two inch metal and glass frames are viewable from both front and back and will have unique art work on both sides that is designed just for you. I will take your personal photo, treasured quotes, a snippet of a letter, invitation, announcement, song, locks of hair, feathers and other precious memories and created a unique and very personal piece of jewelry. Your personal photos and other paper memorabilia will not be damaged. I will make copies of them from which to create your pendant and then I will return the originals to you, with your pendant, unharmed.

There is a long story behind these pendants. The one shown contains a photo of my mother as a baby. On the back is a poem written for me by my dear friend, Renee Fukumoto: 

He spread His arms
to die
and, rising,
Gave me wings
to fly
~ r
Glory in the wings He gave you Sande!!

Included with the poem are a few small feathers and it is with them that the story begins and the idea for these memory pendants was born. When I lost my mother twenty-three years ago, it devastated me. She wasn't just a parent, she was my best friend. I'd toyed with the idea of seeing a psychic for years but I maintained an open minded skepticism where such things were concerned. Finally, I decided to make an appointment with someone who claimed to be a medium but I went into that meeting quite expecting to be disappointed. We talked about many things and the medium brought up things about my life, my plans and dreams that no one else could have known. Finally, I asked about my mom. He described things about her also that he could not have known and then he told me that she still watched over me and that she sent me feathers as a reassurance. I left the meeting still not quite convinced and then as I parked my car later, a beautiful blue feather with white spots....quite an unusual site....came floating in the window and landed gently in my lap. Suddenly, my disbelief was swept away and my faith in the feathers increased each time one appears. It seems I never see them until I am troubled or upset over something. When I'm very sad, the feathers seem to just magically appear. This has been going on for many years but this past September, I lost someone who'd been my best friend since we were wee little girls. She told me, a few weeks before she died, that soon I'd have another angel watching over me. On the morning she passed away, I was rushing to take care of my horses so I could return to my friend's bedside. Her brother had called me a little earlier to tell me that she wasn't doing well. I was understandably upset as I hurried through my chores and then I see floating down from the sky, two feathers, one larger and one small. I immediately put the larger feather into a locket with the handwritten message, best friends forever and love you. I took it to her but I was too late for her to see it. Her brother tied it to a prayer quilt the Methodist ladies had made for her and the feather locket and quilt were buried with her. At her funeral, I was nervous because I had to speak. I was walking to her gravesite with her cousin, Suzy, when Suzy suddenly gasped and pointed to the ground. There at my feet was a beautiful white feather. I knew she was watching over us all. I kept looking for feathers over the next few weeks but didn't spot any until I was at the barn with my horses one day and thinking about my friend. I said out loud, "I miss you so much!" and what should appear but a lovely feather, perfect and undamaged despite the recent rain and all of the mud around it. So, you see, my own feather locket holds more than precious memories; it is a daily reminder that I am loved and I continue to love these two precious angels who watch over me. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Depressing as the subject of death is to talk about, the following excerpt from an article about death and grief is certainly true and should be very motivational to all of us:

 "Death is the ultimate deadline.

I’m a True Blood fan, but from watching the show and seeing how vampires handle the understanding that they’ve been granted everlasting mortality, it occurs to me that none of them really accomplish all that much.

Take the case of Eric Northman, who was a Viking when he was turned into a vampire. He’s been roaming the planet for 1,000 years, give or take a few hundred. You’d think that with all that time to dream, plan, and accomplish he could be a motivational speaker, prolific author or artist, or a talk show host with success that rivals Oprah’s. So what is he? He’s a bar owner.

Death provides humans with the ultimate deadline. Behaviors that hasten this deadline, health-destroying habits like sloth and overeating, are a means of living suicide, of acting dead, and distracting us from fully living.

When we’re presented with evidence of our own mortality, so many of us wake up and decide that we’re going to cast aside these old habits, figure out what would make us feel happy and fulfilled, and then go do that."

Monday, December 2, 2013

DHC Challenge for today: Mix it up: Do 1 thing differently today, such as walking a new route or eating in a new spot.
I wish I could say that my change was finally getting to the horses on time but that ship has sailed. I had great intentions and rose before 4AM. Unfortunately, I waited until sunrise and time to feed the horses before I realized that I needed to make some changes to some settings in my online store. Then I felt the need to post all of the new items to my Facebook page. It would have been so much easier to have done this all at the same time but I thought, I'll make it quick and just post to my personal page for now. So, after that was done, I checked my personal page and decided to share with my business page....where I should have put them in the first place. After sharing all of them....I think at least 15 items....and posting prices and details for each one, I checked the business page and realized that FB had me posting as a visitor instead of page administrator which means, my posts were not showing up on the main page. Which means, I had to transfer them all again and then realized, the details and pricing weren't transferring with them........aaaaaaargh! So, it is nearly 10AM and I haven't fed the horses yet! I know they aren't happy and despite my good intentions, nothing was done differently since these distractions are becoming habit.

So, for my thing to do differently today, I think I'll take a walk at lunch. I work from home so my lunches are often...or hour long even though I don't eat for that long. I usually catch up on one of my favorite TV shows but most of those are in hiatus now so that will give me even more motivation to get up off my duffus and walk! That would be a good habit to start today and tomorrow, I promise I'll get to the horses much earlier......but don't tell them because I hate for them to be disappointed. If I make it, it will be a nice surprise for them. :)

Happy Monday, all.....we're starting not only a week but a new month full of possibilities!