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Archive for the ‘About me’ Category

August 7, 2015 Edition It had to be “UKE;” it had to be “UKE.”
I wandered around and finally found the somebody who
Could make me be true, could make be blue,
And even be glad, just to be sad, thinking of you . . .

Because two colorful ukuleles arrived the day of my 38th wedding anniversary, I took a little liberty with the lyrics from the song “It Had to Be You.” For my husband and me, the thrill of being married hasn’t worn off, nor has the fun of playing ukuleles. Despite being novice ukulele players, we enjoy the time we spend together strumming and singing, so much that we recently purchased a pair of waterproof soprano-sized ones. Beach, lake, swimming pool, rainforest, or shower – there’s no stopping us now! My kids should be scared.

#1 – Make It and Play It
DIY Musical Instruments Whenever I take my ukulele out of its case, my baby granddaughter becomes very excited. Although, I look forward to making some of these musical instruments with her, I question why kids are the only ones allowed to be silly and wildly creative? Last week some of my friends and I discussed the idea of letting loose and holding adult creative play-days. Check out 42 Splendidly Creative Homemade Musical Instruments and feel your inner child come to the surface.

#2 – Tree Houses
Houses Built Around Trees This series of photographs depicts ways in which buildings were designed around existing trees. How I would love to relax and strum in some of these homes!

#3 – Proverbs
Inspiring African Proverbs Wise proverbs and bold graphics make these 11 Inspiring African Proverbs standout.

#4 – 100 Ways to Get to 100
100 Wonderful Ways to Live to 100 Whether you’re on the younger or older side of life, there is no time like the present to start incorporating some of the 100 Wonderful Ways to Live to 100 into your life. Most likely, you can already check off many of them, but there is always the possibility to do more. By the way, ukulele playing falls under number 86 – “Find the healthy hobbies that make you light up.”

#5 – The Food of Love
“If music be the food of love, play on.”
William Shakespeare

Now go and spread joy!

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July 31, 2015 Edition Shapes, curves, and lines make up our world, but we often don’t notice or acknowledge them. Going through life on autopilot or in a state of distraction causes many of us to miss out on seeing some of the truth of what’s in front of our eyes. For example, this echeveria plant has an interesting ruffled appearance and a nice medium green color. But when using the power of black and white photography, the elements of the plant are stripped down to their essence. The dramatic shapes, curves, and lines of the plant now stand out and beg our eyes to take note. So, the next time you’re out and about, stop and look at something around you. In your mind, imagine what that item would look like if it were in black and white. You may discover that you appreciate it in a different way.

#1 – The Power of Black and White

100+ Awe-Inspiring Black & White Photographs

Berenger

The dramatic power of black and photography can be seen 100 times over in 100+ Awe Inspiring Black & White Photographs. Which photo is your favorite?

#2 – Display Those Photos
Creative Ways to Display Photos Taking photographs is one thing, but displaying them is another. If you store photographs in shoe boxes like me (bad, bad, bad idea!), get them out and and try using one of the creative ideas from Buzzfeed’s 27 Unique Photo Display Ideas That Will Bring Your Memories To Life.

#3 – Architectural Winners
The Coolest Buildings on the Planet, According to Architecture Fans Architects play with lines, shapes, and forms for structural and interesting effects. To see some incredible award-winning architectural designs from around the world check out, The Coolest New Buildings On The Planet, According to Architecture Fans.

#4 – Sweet Black and White
Chocolate Icebox Cakes Not everything in the world of black and white is austere. Take this icebox cake for instance. Layers of chocolate wafers and whipped cream, make for one sweet treat. Click here for the recipe.

#5 – Clothes or Souls?
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Ted Grant

Now go and spread joy!

 

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July 24, 2015 Edition “Stop right there! Don’t take another step!” I called out to my dad. He stopped suddenly, looked around for signs of potential danger, and then looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Why?” he replied impatiently. During a walk to the beach with my family, I noticed words etched into the sidewalk. As I read the words, I saw that my dad was on the verge of stepping on them. The moment was too perfect; I had to interrupt his stride. At his feet, scrawled in the concrete, were the words, “WE LOVE YOU GRAMPA.” Surrounded by his family for the weekend to celebrate his birthday, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to capture our love for him more “concretely.”

#1 – Ageless Graffiti
Senior Citizens Learn to Graffiti According to Merriam-Webster, “writing or drawing made on a public structure without permission” is graffiti. That means the etchings in the sidewalk could be considered graffiti. Is graffiti always a bad thing? That’s not so, in sections of Portugal. In an attempt to “banish ageist stereotypes through the art of graffiti,” an urban art workshop called Lata 65 brings together senior citizens and well-known street artists. Read the article and take a look at some of the artwork that comes out of this unique creative workshop by clicking here.

#2 – The Power of One
Great Invention: Shoes That Expand Imagine buying shoes for your children that grow with your children’s feet and last for years. Kenton Lee, “a normal guy with an idea,” designed a sandal-like shoe that does exactly that. His invention The Shoe That Grows can grow 5 shoe sizes and last at least 5 years. These leather and compressed rubber shoes protect the feet of children in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Vietnam, and Laos and prevent the children from having to go barefoot. One person with one idea is helping children around the world.

#3 – The Hubbub About BookBub
BookBub: Free EBooks BookBub is a daily email service that finds free or discounted ebooks for its subscribers. It provides readers with opportunities to sample new authors and discover new books. Since readers can specify genres of books they are interested in, BookBub sends out emails with titles matched to readers’ preferences.

#4 – You Have Today
Interview with Tom Rath Don’t dwell on the events of yesterday and don’t fantasize about tomorrow; today and the present moment need your attention. Susan Cain shares her interview with author, researcher, and speaker Tom Rath on her blog Quiet Revolution. Mr. Rath’s philosophy of life resonates with me. Click on the link above to read the entire interview. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from it:

The broader learning for me, after battling cancer for a couple of decades, is: you have to do something today that will continue to grow after you’re gone. I may have a more constant threat to my mortality than the average person, but in reality the only thing any of us can count on with extreme certainty is that we have today to do what matters most.

#5 – A Bit of Perspective
“My granddaughter came to spend a few weeks with me, and I decided to teach her to sew. After I had gone through a lengthy explanation of how to thread the machine, she stepped back, put her hands on her hips, and said in disbelief, “You mean you can do all that, but you can’t play my Game Boy?”
Author Unknown

Now go and spread joy!

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July 17, 2015 Edition Under silhouettes of tree canopies and a summer sky sprinkled with shooting stars, I swim laps in the dark tranquil water of my pool. My strokes, while unrefined, transport me back and forth, during what I call my hour of peace. House lights, patio lights, and even pool lights are flicked off. Only the stars, the moon, and surrounding ambient light illuminate my way. But for the faint strains of favorite music playing in the background, the quiet rippling of water soothes the tension of busy days. Every night while I float serenely on my back and admire the view above, I thank my lucky stars for having lived another day.

#1 – Stargazing
Star Gazing Calendar Decades ago, when I moved into my current home and when ambient light from auto malls, shopping centers, and the like did not exist, my husband, my children, and I would take advantage of our steep driveway and place sleeping bags on it to stargaze. Our driveway became our amphitheater to the sky. If you enjoy stargazing, don’t miss out on exciting upcoming celestial events. Here are 3 sites that will keep you informed. For a quick preview, click on the photo above to learn about events in July and August:

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events
Skywatching in 2015: 9 Must-See Stargazing Events
Weekly Stargazing Tips

#2 – Wet Workouts
Although swimming under the stars is one of my favorite things to do, I also use my swimming pool to get additional exercise. Below are two great videos that show a variety of exercises you can do in a pool.
Calorie-Burning Pool Moves:

Tighten Your Abs in the Pool:

#3 – Playing With Food
Carl Warner's Incredible Foodscapes What if the water in your swimming pool were really blue jello and the trees providing you that lovely little bit of shade were made of parsley and ginger root? Carl Warner, a London-based photographer creates incredible landscapes using food. In his world, loaves of bread create mountains, celery stalks form a verdant forest, and romanesco becomes undersea coral. The ingredients in these detailed “foodscapes” don’t go to waste either. He or his crew take the food home and eat it or they donate it to a homeless shelter.

#4 – Naturally-Flavored Water
10 Natural Flavored Waters Why drink plain water when you can sip refreshing naturally-flavored water? Check out the tantalizing combinations in 10 Natural Flavored Water Recipes.

#5 – Lose to Find
Swimming Inspiration

Now go and spread joy!

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July 10, 2015 Edition Buster dashes through the opened front door, runs past the kitchen filled with delicious aromas, and heads straight to the back door. He longingly stares through the glass panes of the door and then begins to bark loudly. Buster wants to go swimming. No gentle licks of hello or nudges to be petted; he is a dog on a mission. Playing fetch with his water bumper in the pool brings him so much joy. Dogs appreciate the simple things in life. We should take lessons from them.

#1 – Simply Genius
This cooking technique found on GoodHomeDIY is simply genius. The onion ring not only holds the egg in a round-shape while cooking, but it also imparts additional flavor. Round-Shaped Eggs

#2 – Must Read
Looking for some good books to read? It can be as simple as checking out Buzzfeed’s list of 53 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down. Must Read Reading List

#3 – Box Templates
Making your own boxes may not seem like a simple process, but it brings such a sense of accomplishment when you are finished and have a beautiful box perfectly suited for its contents. Take a look at the variety of box and bag templates offered for free on Template Maker. Template Maker

#4 – Look Me In The Thighs
Women's Thighs: One Word 25 brave women between the ages of 20 and 70 bared their thighs and then, using one word, described them. This is not a desirable or pleasant task for most women, but the descriptions by these women are simply honest and revealing. Read 25 Women Bare Their Gloriously Unretouched Thighs — And Describe Them In One Word and immediately start appreciating your thighs more.

#5 – The Simple Life
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter . . . to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

Now go and spread joy!

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DIY Pincushion: Repurposing Jars “What are you doing with all of the baby food jars, Mom?” my daughter asked as she eyed the boxes of empty jars. “Oh, I’m saving them for projects.” Catching the look that my daughter and husband exchanged, I added, “It won’t be long before Charlotte moves on from eating commercial baby food, so I have to collect the jars while the collecting is good.” I plan on repurposing the jars for group activity projects throughout the year, so I’ll need a lot of them. These cute little pincushions are just the beginning. Next, I’ll make clever photo jars and then some petite terrariums. Oh, and how about fall votive holders and winter snow globes and Valentine’s Day party favors . . . .

Baby Food Jar Pincushion
As seen on CraftPudding

SUPPLIES
DIY pin cushion supplies
1. Baby food jar
2. Hot glue gun
3. Needle and thread
4. Polyfill stuffing or batting
5. Fabric, cut into a 5-inch circle
6. Scissors
7. Ribbon, enough length to go around the perimeter of the jar lid and wide enough to cover both the lid and the bottom part of the pincushion

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut a length of thread, long enough to stitch around the outer edge of the fabric circle. Make a knot at the end of the thread. Make basting stitches (straight stitches, evenly spaced) around the entire perimeter of the fabric circle. At the end of the stitches, don’t knot the thread or cut it off. You will need to pull this thread to gather the fabric. To make it easier for you to see the stitching, I’ve flipped the fabric over to the wrong side.DIY PIn Cushion Stitch

2. Plug in your glue gun to heat it up.

3. Place the polyfill stuffing in the center of the fabric circle. Pull the thread to gather the fabric until very little of the filling can be seen and it looks like a “puff.”DIY Pin Cushion Poof

4. Adjust the filling in the puff, so that it is evenly distributed. If it is to your satisfaction, go ahead and tie a knot in the thread and snip off the extra length.

5. Apply glue to the top of the cap, making sure to apply some just inside the edge of the cap. If too much glue is applied directly to the edge, it will slop over onto the side (see the big mess I made in the photo). Place the fabric puff stitch-side down on the glue, making sure it is centered on the lid. Apply even pressure on the puff until the glue has hardened. DIY Pin Cushion Glue

6. Finally, working small sections at a time, apply small dots of hot glue around the lid and then press the ribbon onto the glue. The ribbon should be covering both the lid and the bottom of the puff. For a neat finish, cut the ribbon about 1/4-inch longer than necessary and fold this amount back towards the jar. Glue it down, overlapping the previously glue-downed ribbon. DIY Pin Cushion Empty

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Although these small jars make cute little pin cushions, any size jar can be used for this project. Just remember to adjust the diameter of the fabric circle and the amount of stuffing to accommodate the change in the size of the lid.

2. I traced around a 5-inch-diameter bowl to get the correct circle size.

3. As mentioned before, these would make cute party favors. Fill the jars with anything you like.

Enjoy!

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July 3, 2015 Edition Baby Charlotte is going swimming. Fun in the sun and water involves planning and responsibility. Gone are the days when we could just grab a towel and go. Experience provides us with the “why and when” and technology provides us with the “what and how.” Swimsuit? Check. Hat? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Rash guard? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Reusable swim diaper? Absolutely! Enjoy cooling off at the pool, lake, river, or ocean, but be responsible for yourself and the Earth.

#1 – How Long Until It’s Gone?
How Long Until It's Gone The pollution of our precious water goes on and on. Take a look at the infographic (click on the image above to enlarge it to a readable size) and see how long it takes certain objects to decompose in water. The lifespan of some of the items may shock you. The next time you take a cruise or relax at a beach or on a boat, please think twice about leaving garbage in the water.

#2 – Water Wall
DIY Water Wall During the drought here in California, it’s hard to condone any of the usual ways that kids play with water to cool off in the summer. Building a water wall is a clever way that allows children to play with water, while recycling it.

#3 – Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July I have a friend who reuses plastic takeout boxes. She carries them in her car for when the need arises. When she dines out, she just carries one in a bag into the restaurant. What a brilliant way to cut down on plastic garbage and help planet Earth. It’s the collective impact of all the little things we do that counts. On that note, can you rise to the challenge of refusing to use a single-use plastic item during the month of July? The website for the movement Plastic Free July states that its goal is “to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. You can sign up for a day, a week or the whole month and try to refuse ALL single-use plastic or try the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.”

#4 – Earth, the Water Planet
Watching this brief video will make you feel gratitude and respect for the gift of water on our beautiful planet.

#5 – Without Love and Water
“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
W. H. Auden

Now go and spread joy!

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P1090345.JPG Today, I will bid a final goodbye to my Uncle Ed, so I will not be posting a normal Friday’s Fresh Five! Instead, I would like to share a memory of him. Being an engineer, my Uncle Ed was an intelligent and clever man, but it was his big heart and gentle soul that endeared him to so many. In three days, my Uncle Ed would have celebrated his 94th birthday. A remarkable age for a remarkable man. I cherish the fond memories I have of him and of the many childhood days spent visiting with him and his family.

The Dark Room

As a child, the thought of entering a dark and creepy space, filled with unimaginable things, always made my pulse race and my stomach churn. Possessing a wild imagination, unfamiliar dark spaces scared the daylights out of me. Then one day, during one of my summer visits to my Uncle Ed and his family, something happened.

The day was sunny and looking to be a fun one when my cousin Bobbie called out, “Come on! Let’s go down there.” I quickly replied, “No, I don’t want to!” Excitedly, she said, “I want to show you something and it’s down there!” Fearfully, I exclaimed, “I don’t want to see it!” Bobbie persisted and before I knew it, she opened the door and we were leaving the sunny fun day behind.

I followed her down narrow wooden stairs and willed my legs to cooperate, so that I wouldn’t stumble and fall headlong into the dank stale air and the oncoming darkness. My heart beat like a metronome set on high by the time we reached the bottom step. While my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I sensed movement to my right and smelled something very strong and acrid. “What is it Bobbie?” I whispered. “I’ll show you,” she replied calmly. “I’m never going to visit her again!” I thought to myself as she nudged me forward. As she guided me closer to the source of the movement, I noticed an eerie light. What I finally saw not only altered my impression of that particular dark space, but also introduced me to something I would grow to love. Standing yards ahead of me was my Uncle Ed. He was busy moving things from tray to tray. As I stepped closer, he explained to me that he was developing black and white photographs. I stood mesmerized, while watching familiar faces slowly come into being. To a young girl, it looked like magic.

That day was the beginning of my lifelong fascination with photography. And, knowing that Uncle Ed created magic within the confines of that basement, I no longer felt afraid to go down into the “darkroom.” 

Thank you Uncle Ed. I am forever grateful to you for introducing me to the magic of photography and for being in my life. I’ll miss you.

 

 

 

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June 19, 2015 Edition The journey my dad took as a young boy from China to the United States amazes me every time I think about it. Consider his story of leaving his mother and walking barefoot to a neighboring village to catch a junk, of sailing down a pirate-infested river, of staying alone in Hong Kong while waiting to catch a steamer ship that would take him one step closer to his father, and of enduring the prison-like internment at Angel Island. I often wonder if I would have had the courage to do what he did. The experiences of leaving his mother and of the traumatic journey are forever etched in his soul. They influence him everyday of his life. They molded him into a determined, hard-working man of integrity and, more importantly, a loving husband, father, brother, and loyal friend. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

#1 – Sacrifices
I cried while watching this video, because I could relate to the sacrifices identified. They are similar, if not identical, to the ones my parents and my grandparents made in order for their children’s lives to be better than their own. We should remember and be grateful everyday for all the sacrifices made for us, and not just on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Veteran’s Day, or Memorial Day.

#2 – Camping Out In Style
Amazing Camping Trailer Because my parents worked just about everyday of the week, camping didn’t fit into our family’s schedule. That’s not to say we didn’t own camping supplies or enjoy the great outdoors. If we had a camper like the one in When Their Trailer Transforms Into a House . . . , camping out might have been more of a priority!

#3 – Two Kinds of People
Clever Illustrations Reveal the Two Kinds of People There Are in the World I laughed when I viewed the article, Clever Illustrations Reveal the Two Kinds of People There Are in the World, because it reminded me of some of the differences between me and my husband. He sets multiple annoying alarms on his digital watch and he bends back pages in books to mark his place. I, on the other hand, rarely set an alarm (because his alarms wake me up), wear a traditional dial watch, and would never dream of defacing a book. What kind of person are you?

#4 – Ways to Repurpose Bottles!
23 Ways to Repurpose Plastic Bottles I grew up in my parents’ grocery store. Literally. My sister and I played hide and seek in the warehouse, scaling tall stacks of cardboard boxes. We also helped sort coupons and soda pop bottles, while our parents worked. Back in the day, soda pop bottles were made of glass. These days, as we all know, most are made of plastic, a substance with which the world has a love-hate relationship. In an effort to find ways to repurpose plastic bottles, here are 23 Insanely Creative Ways to Recycle Plastic Bottles Into DIY Projects.

#5 – Five for Fathers
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”
Jim Valvano

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
Clarence Budington Kelland

“I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.”
Sidney Poitier

“In our house, Mother’s Day is every day. Father’s Day, too. In our house, parents count. They do important work and that work matters. One day just doesn’t cut for us.”
Margaret Heffernan

“Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.”
Victor Hugo

Happy Father’s Day to all the deserving fathers out there!

Now go and spread joy!

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June 12, 2015 Edition Rotti doesn’t dwell on his disability. In fact, he’s a pretty darn happy guy. Despite the fact that he has a disease that caused his hind legs to become lame, his infectious joyful demeanor remains constant. Rotti runs on all fours now and the only thing that would make him happier would be for someone to adopt him.

#1 – A Home For Rotti
Rotti Needs a Home Rotti is a super cute and loveable 4½ year-old male tri-color Welsh Corgi with IVDD who is in need of a “furever” home. Rotti had back surgery and is currently being fostered by my oldest son. Being an energetic dog, Rotti’s disability never slows him down or prevents him from enjoying all the things that dogs love. Rotti recently received a set of “wheels” to help strengthen his muscles and to help improve his mobility. After watching video clips of him running with the aid of his cart, all I could do was smile and say, “Run Rotti, run!” If you are interested in learning more about Rotti, check out these links:

The Adventures of Super Rotti
Dogs of Instagram
The Daily Corgi

Rotti Needs a Family and Home And, even better, if you’re interested in adopting this adorable and affectionate dog, contact Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue.

#2 – Enabling the Future
Enabling the Future Last month, one of my friends attended the 2015 Maker Fair and came across a booth sponsored by Enabling the Future. She learned that this organization solicits volunteers from around the world to use their 3-D printers to fabricate mechanical hands for children in need. With Rotti in mind, my friend asked the representatives if they ever made prostheses for dogs. They had not, but thought it could be possible. She brought me back some literature to read. I found the organization’s website to be very inspirational. Here is a segment from its “About” page:

What originally started out as a couple of guys who created something to help one child in need . . . has grown into a world wide movement of tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and people who just want to make a difference.

They are coming together to create, innovate, re-design and give a “Helping hand” to those that need it – whether it is helping to print parts for them, creating a completed device for them or simply helping to guide them as they build one themselves.

There are people around the Globe – 3d printing fingers and hands for children they will never meet, classes of high school students who are making hands for people in their local communities, hundreds of Scout troops working together to assemble hands for children in underserved areas around the globe, a group of people that are risking their lives to get these devices onto people in 3rd World countries and new stories every day of parents working with their children to make a hand together.

If this project interests you and you want to give someone a “helping hand” check out the link above.

#3 – Who’s Disabled?
The Amazing Art of Disabled Artists Could you be an artist, if you didn’t have arms or eyes? Looking through the artwork in The Amazing Art of Disabled Artists, I realized that if a person is an artist, he will always be an artist, no matter what his circumstance. I am blessed with four limbs and eyesight, but never in a million years could I ever paint or sculpt anything as incredible as the work of these artists.

#4 – Touching Two Lives
Soldier's Best Friend If the dog is man’s best friend, then the pairing of a shelter dog with a wounded veteran makes for the most compelling bond imaginable. Assisting veterans and combatting pet overpopulation is the mission of Soldier’s Best Friend, a non-profit corporation. Its work focuses on “touching two lives at once.”

#5 – Are You Disabled?
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
Scott Hamilton

Now go and spread joy!

P.S. Remember Duke, the Corgi-Dachsund-Jack Russell-mix dog I wrote about back in March? Well, I’m happy to report that someone adopted him!

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