Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Picture This

This week's theme with Patty Wysong's Meme is  related to NewYears - Celebration, Traditions, Resolutions, etc...

 Click below for more stories or to join in on the fun!


For years, I’ve had a minor interest in photography and often declared that someday I would get an expensive camera and take a photography class.

Well, that someday has come and it's  my New Year's resolution to learn more about photography. I purchased a “big girl” camera this past September- a Canon  EOS Rebel T3 and have been studying online on how to use the settings. It’s been an interesting journey over the past year, and I thank the social media for directing me to special blogs and websites that encourage picture taking.

Over the last few months, I’ve developed a greater interest in photography, as my interest for writing waned. I do digital scrapbooking through the Creative Memories Company:  http://www.creativememories.com/
and it was through them, that I learned about Nick Kelsh and his “How to Photograph your Baby” site on Facebook.   http://www.facebook.com/how.to.photograph.your.baby

This site is far more than pictures of kids, which I have none, but is open to everything! It’s a social site where one can post photos and get feedback. It also provides tutorials. The site is soon becoming a webpage, so even greater interactions will occur. I began posting some of my favorite photos from my simple Point and Shoot cameras and was getting positive feedback. Facebook friends are telling me that I have “an eye” for picture taking. I don’t know about that, but I enjoy it!

I also found another photographic site that is a blog and it happens to belong to Patty’ Wysong’s sister, Cheryl.   http://www.sealevel320.com/

She posts beautiful photos and blogs on the feelings the pictures bring out. It was through Cheryl’s blog that I discovered yet another blog from Kat Sloma   http://kateyestudio.com/   Her photos are unique.
Cheryl was taking an on-line course from Kat, and posting some photos on her blog. Kat offers on-line courses, tutorials and challenges and when I saw what Cheryl was learning, I wanted to take that course too!

So, beginning on January 7, 2012, I will begin an online course on “Finding your Eye”
 Kat wants participants to create a photo journal. We will be given photo prompts, and upon posting a photo, write about the photo- responses, experiences, feelings and emotions involved. Other participants in the course will be interacting on each other’s photo journals. This helps to obtain insight into ourselves and to  help isolate our special "eye" of creativity. I am going to use my blog as my photo journal.

Photography has become a passion, whereas, I did not experience that strong desire with writing. Writing seemed more of a chore and I did not feel competent in it. Photography is fun, and I’m constantly seeing potential photo ops everywhere I go! It could easily turn into an obsession! I carry cheaper point and shoot cameras in my car for those times. I see so many interesting things to photograph when driving but rarely stop and follow through. Perhaps this course will nudge me to go for it!

I invite you to check in here when you have a chance and observe my progress - I welcome your thoughts and interactions!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It was a Holy Night

This week's theme with Patty Wysong's Meme is a church related activity or event. Click below for more stories or  to join in on the fun! http://www.pattywysong.com/2011/11/jollydaze-4-n-me-meme.html

                                   “Oh Holy night, the stars are brightly shining…”
This beautiful song always evokes a memory of a very special time when as a teen-ager, I spent Christmas Eve with the homeless on Skid Row. Although frightened at first, I acclimated to the environment, and  soon shared in the Spirit of Christmas during this eye-opening experience.

As part of their monthly ministry, the church  I attended at the time provided a worship service at a rescue mission in Los Angeles for all who wanted to come. Congregants of all ages met at the church and traveled the 25 mile distance to sing, share testimonies, and give a short sermon. This particular year, the date fell on Christmas Eve so there was a smaller turnout; however, my parents and boyfriend joined in the adventure

Meeting at our church on that chilly afternoon, we loaded up the rickety old church bus and inched our way through heavy traffic and into the skid row area of Downtown. Darkness arrived the same time we did. Unkempt men sat against the wall off the building and dully watched as we unload the sound equipment. Being young and immature, I felt vulnerable around the disheveled men. I was fearful of what a drunken man might do, so clustered with my friends.

After a meal was served, time came for the program to start, I noticed that the building was nearly full and that some men were asleep in their seats. However, most of the attendees just sat staring us as we filled up the stage. We all joined together singing Christmas carols and the pastor told the story of the first Christmas. As I listened and observed the congregation from my seat in the choir loft, my heart started breaking for those men who had no one. I wondered what had happened in their lives that had led to them to be here. As I was only a teenager, I did not know what I could do to help make their life a bit better.

The highlight of the service occurred when my boyfriend played a heavenly-sounding solo on his guitar: “Oh Holy Night.” I could see tears in the eyes of some of the scruffy men and others were outright sobbing. I could sense the power of Christmas in that room, as well as in my own heart.

Following the program, several families gathered at one of our member’s home for food and fellowship. The nice warm home, decorated so lovely, and  with an abundance of delicious food seemed so anti-climatic to what we had just experienced. I realized that I was blessed to have friends and family that I could be with, unlike the broken men we’d just left behind. I prayed that our time there had put a little light and love into their bleak lives.

To this day, I think back to that poignant night and feel sad because broken and homeless people are even greater now, and include whole families. And yet, I feel a warm glow because we brought the “good news” to the people and were able to share our love in a tangible manner. That  truly is the spirit of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Cookies: Past and Present

This week's theme with Patty Wysong's Meme is    A Baking Memory 
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 Or to join in on the fun!


I was thirteen at Christmas, 1968, and Mom had been very ill with the Hong Kong flu. To cheer her up, I decided to make the delicious molasses cookies from the recipe in our well-worn Betty Crocker Cookbook. I doubled the batch so that we would have plenty of the  Christmas shaped cookies, but when we went to eat them they were very dry. It  was determined that I'd failed to double the amount of molasses! 
We ate them anyway.


My favorite cookie recipe is for ETHEL'S SUGAR COOKIES, which is also found in my Betty Crocker cookbook. These cookies are  adaptable and can be rolled into any shape for any season or event.

For  Christmas, I use cookie cutters to create stars, bells, wreaths, and trees, then frost with colored icing. A dusting of candy sprinkles adds to the appeal of these cookies, but they are still yummy unadorned!

            Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Handcrafting Childhood Memories

This week's theme with Patty Wysong's  Holiday Meme is Christmas Decorations. Click below for more stories or to join in on the fun!     http://www.pattywysong.com/2011/11/jollydaze-4-n-me-meme.html

Did you  ever make a  tissue paper wreath? I remember creating my first one when I was a Brownie Girl Scout, and have made several over the years. 
A wire coat hanger is bent  to form an oval, then pre-cut strips of tissue paper are twisted around the hanger. 
  For extra embellishment, different colors of tissue or baubles can be added to the completed wreath. The hook part of the hanger functions as the hanger-of course!
 It is tedious and time-consuming, but easy enough for even the most uncrafty person to make. I've made them with clear plastic, but they're not as pretty as the one made with green tissue paper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Another oldie craft I remember making when I was a kid was  a Christmas tree formed from folding over a Reader's Digest magazine or phone book.  Each page was folded partway down from the top leaving the bottom space as the base of the tree. When all pages were completed, the book was fanned out  and stapled together. A coating of spray paint in green, red or gold and a sprinkling of glitter made the folded pages resemble a Christmas tree!

 I don't recall making gingerbread houses as a child, but I did get the opportunity to assist in decorating one when my grand-niece, Sammi, was 4 years old. I stayed with her in December of  2009 when her mother, Stephanie, was going in to have her second daughter.  Stephanie had planned ahead, and purchased a pre-made gingerbread kit. On the morning  of  December 3rd, after mom and dad left for the hospital, we cleared the kitchen table and began our project.
We placed the candy decorations in dishes, and I assisted Sammi in  making  the frosting and putting it in the tube.  I let her do all the piping of the frosting and she had a ball!  (I know her mama would have freaked out at the mess we were making, but oh well it was cleaned up!) Sammi did the placement of the gumdrops and candy balls too. She was quite pleased with her creation! 


I'm not sure if Sammi recalls making the gingerbread house, but I will always cherish the precious memory of that morning.

            The stores are full of beautiful Christmas ornaments and decorations, but for me, handmade ones seem the most memorable. What are some of your favorite handcrafted Christmas decorations?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Mall Santa!

                                                                                                                                                                                           This week's theme with Patty Wysong's Meme is a holiday tradition or memory. Click below for more stories or join in the fun! http://www.pattywysong.com/2011/11/jollydaze-4-n-me-meme.html 
You know how the malls are filled with Santas every year? Well, for a few years, my dad volunteered as Santa at a couple of local malls and it is a memory I shall always cherish!

        He already had the bushy white eyebrows with thin gold eyeglasses, a white goatee and arrived to the job pre "stuffed."  Dad was often compared to Colonel Sanders in his appearance, but I think more Burl Ives or his snowman character in the cartoon story of "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer."

At one mall one year, Santa showed up in a firetruck on the day after Thanksgiving. Another year, he arrived in a helicopter. Dad loved all the attention he gathered as he was escorted through the mall!
 Being a mall Santa is also an emotionally hard job. Dad would share about the kids that visited Santa and sometimes his heart would break.when kids asked Santa for their parents to reunite or for someone who has died to come back.
As  Dad's health declined, he was less able to to endure the pace of allthose children and their sad stories and had to give up the role of Santa Claus.  That also broke his heart. 
I rarely put up Christmas decorations and have given away most of what I had collected over the years, but there are a few ornaments and items that have sentimental value.  In the  container where I keep these special keepsakes resides a plastic ornament of a Santa face  adorned with a furry white beard. It reminded me of Dad when I first saw it. It still does. He has been gone nearly 15 years now, but memories of him live on.

Now you can see why this was not your typical santa that did seasonal work at the mall. No, this santa was my dad, and that makes him special! He was Santa Dad!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why be thankful?

                                                                           Patty Wysong has started up another MEME to get us blogging through the holiday season. The theme is "Jollydaze 4 U & me" and it is six weeks of holiday-themed posts.            

Thanksgiving 1959 when I was 4 years old, Dad is behind me,
Mom across from him and my little brother across
 from me is age 3
Thanksgiving 1967 and I am on the right, middle, with Mom and brother.
 Dig those cat eye specs at the age of 12!
This week we observe Thanksgiving and it's a time when we are told to think about all that we are thankful for. Really, thankfulness should be on a daily basis, but I'm guilty of dwelling on the not so pleasant areas. Let me give myself a good kick in the rear and realize how blessed I am!

1.  My job is driving me crazy-Hey, I have a job! It has it's perks in that my schedule is quite flexable and I'm free to do the work at my own pace.

2.  I am single and alone-I still have my mom! It's become our tradition on Thanksgiving to have lunch at HomeTown Buffet, go see a movie, then shop at Big Lots! (No cooking, cleaning or dealing with dysfunctional relatives)

3. I have no children of my own-Nearly every Sunday, I volunteer as an extra in the church nursery where there will aways be babies to cuddle!

4. I will not be able to attain the weight loss goal I set for the end of December- I've dropped 44 pounds since the beginning of the year and I can move so much easier now!

5. My two cats wake me up,want attention when I'm on the computer, make a mess in the house and restrict me from going away for extended periods of time- They are a lot of company and they greet me when I return home each day.

6. I've accepted that I'm not a writer- A new hobby of photography has filled the gap and I'm having fun learning all about the craft and getting positive comments when I post photos on Facebook.

7.  My niece, her husband and three kids live in another state and I miss them-They are a phone call or instant message away and I don't have to deal with the melodrama of 3 girls and a pregnant mama. :)

Love you, Steph! Happy birthday on Wednesday,
God bless you, Tristan! Happy birthday TODAY!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Music as spicy as the food

Music is a very important part of my life, and though I'm not musically inclined, I do have  a basic knowledge of  musical concepts.  I have no rhythm, yet appreciate songs that have a pronounced beat to it.  A few years ago, I was introduced to a genre of music that was very energetic and fun to listen to.

This music is called ZYDECO.

 It oriniated in Louisiana and is part Cajun Music, part blues and part Rhythm &Blues. It reminds me of Bluegrass mixed with Mariachi! Musical instruments involved in Zydeco include an accordian, a wash board worn on the chest, fiddle, drums, saxaphone, horns, guitar and  bass guitar.

                                                                             According to the website for Lafayette,
Cajun music is the product of creolization, like most other features of Louisiana French culture. The Cajun sounds are a blend of German, Spanish, Scottish, Irish, Anglo-American, Afro-Caribbean and American Indian influences with a base of western French and French Acadian folk tradition. They are most noted for their up-beat tempos, cheerful lyrics and peculiar dance rhythms. While there is no comparison to the sounds of good Cajun music, some say it reminds them of Bluegrass with a French accent, while others claim it is more like European folk music. Most Cajun music purists would agree that you must see as well as hear Cajun music performed to appreciate its richness. Most people cannot keep from dancing to the Cajun waltz and two-step rhythms when they hear the hand-clapping, foot-stomping sound in its happiest, rapid-tempo forms. 

                                 Here is a YouTube video of Zydeco band and singer known as Buckwheat.


                                                                                Isn't Zydeco fun?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Y is for YOUTHFUL!

I just experienced several days spent with little girls ages 1,2 and 6, and it was both exhausting and exhilarating.

My little grandnieces came for a visit and I so enjoyed seeing their reactions to all the wondrous things we did over the past week. My brain joined them in their youthful energy, but my body  was not so  cooperative.

At Disneyland, I took Sammi,who will be 6 in December, on her first rollercoaster ride. It was a kiddie coaster but she loved it. So did I!

We then went on Thunder Mountain- a much faster and sharper ride and she loved it-twice! We did not get a photo of the coaster, so this pic is from the internet.

Our final roller coaster adventure was on Space Mountain. That little girl was beside herself with joy from this ride. So was this big girl! This photo is also from the internet.                            

I also joined Sammi in a Rocket ship ride the circled around and around. I was not so thrilled with that one. I was cramped into the car and forgot that I did not like circling round and round. Then I had a hard time unfolding myself and exiting the ride. It was not a graceful sight!


On the boat for a whale-watch, Sammi  (and me) was so excited! The water was choppy and when a wave came, the boat went up and then smacked down. It was like a roller coaster on the ocean! Of course, seeing  a pod of dolphin and juvenile blue whales was pretty  awesome  too!      
                                                                                                                                                                    Because the ride was so bumpy, I lost balance and fell hard on my knee, with Sammi on top of me. Several people were sea sick, and I was rushing Sammi away from a woman who needed the rail, and that's when I fell. I have a large bruise and abrasion and several smaller bruises on the other leg.

Lily will be two next month and is full of energy and wonder at everything she sees. She is just now beginning to say words, but  the word "WOW" was frequently heard through-out all our adventures. (Mama has been working with her for signing, to help communicate wants and needs)

Lucy will be 1 next month, and is a very moody daddy's girl. She did not warm up to me 'til the last day, and only if daddy was in her view. Still, she is a very sweet baby!  She's the happiest when eating or in Daddy's arms!
Yesterday, they all returned to their home in Colorado and I miss them. Yet, I'm tired! Within 5 days, we did Disneyland, Aquarium of the Pacific, whale watching, went to two large malls, church, and eating out - a lot. (Oh my diet...)
Sammi did not get to have her sleep-over with me because she had been naughty too many times.

Now, I'm back to work and struggling to get caught up on all the work that was neglected during the time I was off. I'm still tired!     

                                    Why is it that our brains can be youthful, but not our bodies?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Opposing lines in photography

This will be a first time post for at  http://kateyestudio.com/2011/11/exploring-with-a-camera-opposing-lines.html website that offers classes in photography.

 The topic is lines or the appearance of lines in photos. In this photo of a jellyfish, the tentacles from one jelly goes down and a passing jellyfish's tentacles displays horizontally. The picture was shot at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California.

In this photo,  the railroad tracks, sidewalk, trees and buildings form  vertical parallel lines while the mountain in background and the clouds in the sky form horizontal lines.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And the winner is....

The drawing for the  authentic scarf from HER SAFARI has been completed.


Catrina Bradley!

Cat, Rita will contact you for details. Thanks everyone who participated in this event.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I realize that this is pushing it for the X factor, but isn't that what creative writing is all about?

I am  eXcited!

This afternoon, at 2:50, a flight from Denver, Colorado, will be arriving, and my niece, Stephanie, her husband, Tristan, and their 3 little girls will be here for a 5 day visit!

They are staying at a local hotel and renting a car. Tomorrow we are going to Disneyland!

 Five year old Sammi ( turns 6 in December) is eager to meet  Disney princessess and pixies, going on her first roller coaster ride, and having her first sleep -over at my house!

We hope to get to the beach too.

 I took off these days from work, so am free to enjoy! Going to go play now. Ta-ta!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Her Safari Blog Tour

     Final  Stop
  Her Safari!
What a trip we've had!

We started out  in Southern California with Rita Garcia

 And then went to Oregon with Shelley Ledfors

We trekked east across a few states to Michigan with Karlene Jacobsen

But then we back-tracked to Oregon with Amy MichelleWiley

We then went up to Washington with Marita Thelander

 But then we went back to Michigan with Joanne Sher

We delighted in the Southern Hospitality of Georgia with Catrina Bradley http://catrinabradley.blogspot.com/2011/10/her-safari.html

 But again, we back-tracked to Missouri with Rachel Phelps

And here, we repeated a stop in Michigan with Kim Russell

Then we went all the way up to Maine with Yvonne Blake

Another back-tracking to Ohio with Dee Yoder

Then we went all the way into Canada with Diana Dart

And finally, ended up back here in sunny Southern California with me- Barbara Lynn Culler     http://msbarbiesblog.blogspot.com/


You need to buy this book, because Lisa has gone broke paying for all the gas that the bus used cris-crossing the country like that!

Well, actually, Lisa has partnered with Heart of God International Ministries, so that they’ll receive the proceeds from books bought on their behalf. If you wish to benefit HGIM with your purchase, there’s a special button on the publishers site at check out (HGIM).

To purchase Her Safari, click here. http://www.demmehouse.com/eBookstore.html

 Remember to check out the fabulous gift basket available:

This lovely gift set includes a copy of Her Safari, two bookmarks, a signed author postcard, ink pen, and a beautiful 20" red scarf as mentioned in the title storysymbolic for allowing God to take care of needs not met here on earth, and as a marker to lead us home to Him. A surprise gift, not featured in the photo, is included with our compliments! (This gift set will not come as assembled.)

Because that scarf is so symbolic, our finale is to give away one red scarf in a random selection drawn from comments to this post!

Will it be you?