Lucero, Finally

Do you ever feel like you’ve just dropped out of your own life? That’s kinda how the past few months feel.  We’ve been busy with the deer lease, a few trips, and work has been overwhelming at times.  So, I haven’t been around much.

One thing I’ve been doing is listening to Lucero- for longer than I’ve been away from the blog. . . . And almost exclusively Lucero- for months.  I told Cody about a month ago that part of is there’s no one else like them. . . there’s no genre to turn to, there’s no group that I can find that sounds like them. So, when I want to listen to that music, that’s all there is.  (Don’t even get me started one what the “like” features on Pandora or Itunes Radio give you- not really close at all.- But Pandora is how I found Lucero years ago, so I can’t totally complain.)  But, the bigger part of it is that I LOVE their music.

Cody has been slow to step on the bandwagon.  (Truth be told, he usually is. . . Fred Eaglesmith took much longer.) When we went to KC, I took over the music and forced him to listen to Lucero- and he started coming around. And, finally, I convinced him to take me to see them.

This past weekend they were in Oklahoma City (Wormy Dog), Dallas for a festival, and then Hot Springs.  When we went to the Wormy Dog, we came home sick from the cigarette smoke- plus it was on a Thursday and would have been harder to take the train again. We really didn’t want to go a festival, so we went to Hot Springs.  We drove up there on Saturday morning and then came home yesterday.

It was everything that I though it would be! So good!

Rick Steff of Lucero

Ben watching Rick Steff play during Fistful of Tears
Ben watching Rick Steff play during Fistful of Tears

Rick Steff of Lucero


July Cards

I’m working on getting back into the swing of things around here.  Today, I thought I’d share with you the cards that I sent out last month.



















Another Blogging Break


Just wanted to drop a line here. It looks like I won’t be blogging much over the next couple of weeks. My computer has been limping along. I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this so soon, but it has. It’s had an impact on my blogging, the things I can blog about, my scrapbooking, my photography, and some other creative projects. It’s as slow as molasses and then some. One of my blog to do’s is to record some scrapbooking videos but even it would let me no one wants to watch all the time it takes to do one small task. I always feel a bit distraught when the technology I use isn’t working.

Well you see, I’m about to do something that I all my years I never thought I would do- and keep in mind I’ve had a home computer in my life longer than most people- we got ours when my friends were getting the very first gaming systems. I am going Mac.

Windows 8- that the biggest reason I’m going Mac or perhaps it’s the decisions behind Windows 8 and some short sided thinking. It seems to me that Microsoft doesn’t get it.

In the years since we switched from a Windows Mobile Smart phone to a iPhone, the ways we use technology have changed so much. With both my phone and an iPad, the way I use my laptop has changed. I use my laptop less and less- I use it when I need it, when one of my devices won’t do the trick. So that means blogging, Lightroom, Photoshop, and sometimes a few other programs like Microsoft Office. Social Media, video, music, games- we do all that on our devices.

That brings me back to the new Windows- it’s built to be just like their smartphone and tablet operating systems. So rather than recognizing the ways I want to use it differently, they’ve gone the opposite direction. It simply makes no sense.

Sure, I could potentially install an older version but does that make any sense? They have a way you can use Window 8 in a more classic view. Neither really makes sense- I want to take advantage of new technologies rather than backtracking. And, since Microsoft has drawn the line in the sand, they aren’t likely to change from the Windows 8 design. So, if I stay with Windows, I will eventually have to make the switch to Windows 8.

So, I’m going Mac which recognizes the differences in the way we use technology today.

Windows 8 has scared me for some time now- and I’m always excited about updated software- I am a geek. But today was a good example of the issues. We went to look at Best Buy since we’d gone to town. Cody, whose never seen much of a Mac at all took to it like a fish to water, he clicked around and was able to maneuver between soft wares etc. He started clicking around on a Windows 8 computer and couldn’t get out I’d the first thing he opened.

So later this week I go Mac, or at least that’s the planned time table. I’m sure I’ll have a bit of a learning curve- though Lightroom and Photoshop will be the same and I’ve been using Safari. I don’t anticipate blogging much over the next two weeks but with a working computer, I’ll be going to town soon. And hopefully making some of the scrapbooking videos I want to make very soon.

Thanks for your patience.

The See Through Bathroom, Take a Trip with Lisa and I

So, hmm, this one is a bit hard to explain other than it’s simply a crazy thing to do- so we thought it would be fun.  Lisa came to visit last weekend.  We’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to get out and be tourists here in Texas whenever we’ve had the chance.  So Saturday, we spent four hours trying to figure out what we wanted to do.  It’s summer here and that means its hot.  As we thought about places to go see, most of the ones around here felt like they were outdoors.  In my internet search, I stumbled upon the fact that Sulphur Springs has the “world’s only” see-through public bathroom.  Well, now, that sounds strange.  It’s the the town square/courthouse lawn.

So, for no other reason than we didn’t have a better plan, that’s what we did.  We drove almost 300 miles round trip to see a see through bathroom.

I will say the old courthouse is quite something.



As luck would have it, downtown was packed.  Well, there went all of Lisa and I’s courage to try the see through bathroom. Lisa and I were trying to figure out what was going on by reading the banners by the courthouse.

And, I was thirsty. That’s when the worst moment and the funniest moment of the day happened.  I was sipping on my coke, which I knew was hot but I was thirsty, while listening to what Lisa was reading and trying to figure out what was going on.  After swallowing the first two sips and taking the third, I realized it wasn’t my coke. It was nasty tasting and that could only mean one thing- I was drinking Lisa’s Dr. Pepper.  If anyone besides Cody knows how much I hate Dr. Pepper and can’t stand the taste, it’s Lisa.  So, at least once she figured it out she got it.  I was struggling to swallow that third sip, when Lisa pointed out that the cap was the wrong color- it was too dark for a coke.  I was trying so hard not to spit that last sip back in the bottle.  It was Lisa’s drink and I felt bad for even winding up with it.  I finally swallowed and Lisa and I fell into laughter.


We wondered the courthouse square and found the see-through bathrooms.  I even snapped a picture of Lisa and I in the reflection.  LOL, you’d never know this is a bathroom!


Of course, I didn’t realize Lisa was looking away when I hit the shutter. It happens- especially when trying to get a picture of Lisa.  We wondered a few of the shops downtown and the realized, we had to go to the bathroom.  So, when you come to see a see-through bathroom and you’ve got to go, you go.

I snapped a few pictures while I was in the bathroom.



Yup, that was my view from within the bathroom.  It was the strangest thing ever!  To be sitting there and looking out at everyone.


Here you can actually tell it’s a bathroom and see just how clear things were.  I wish I’d taken a video because it probably would have captured it much better.  I wonder why I didn’t think of that at the time. . . it was kinda mind-blowing weird in there.


I think next time I take this adventure, I’ll be sure to drink lots of water- call it liquid courage in a new form.

There were a few other things to do in Sulphur Springs rather than just going to see a see-through bathroom.  We went by the Dairy Museum to get a few pics of the big cows.  OK, we would have gone to the museum but it was closed.

wpid5410-20130720_DSC_0140.jpg wpid5408-20130720_DSC_0146.jpg wpid5406-20130720_DSC_0149.jpg

And on the way home, we had the most spectacular rainbow.  We got to enjoy it forever it seemed.  It went all the way around and then there was a fainter rainbow above it.  The pictures that I got just do not do it justice.  It was sooooo cool.



You can find out more about the see-through bathroom in Sulphur Springs (and other things to do) here.  That’s the link that started it all. . . .

Unintended Blog Break


Have you missed me? I’ve missed you and I’ve missed blogging the last few weeks. I could give you a list of excuses. Here’s the thing though. . . I am working on giving myself the benefit of the doubt. We’ve had a lot of schedule changes around here- things that have thrown our routines out of whack. It seems this will be a month that I battle with a headache- those happen. Sometimes we just can’t live up to our own expectations. I realize I simply need to cut myself a little slack.

So, instead of a list of excuses, how about a list just some of the reasons I’ve been away? In a bit of a light-hearted version. . .

  • Floor Space- That floor space above. Well, it came just this past week. It’s our spare bedroom. Yes, I know there’s a freezer in our spare bedroom. With all the big stuff that’s in there, there really isn’t much floor space to begin with- especially when the treadmill is down. But, then add this is the room where all the hunting stuff goes. . . well, there’s more often than not, no floor space. The little floor space in there is usually covered at least two-three feet high with hunting stuff- bags with our clothes, linens, gun cases, turkey calls, etc. We don’t have the best storage solutions in the closet for all that stuff- and it honestly doesn’t all fit. So during deer season, it becomes a mess. And it’s easier to just roll with that mess right on through turkey season and then still beyond that. It’s just a fact of the space we have and the stuff of hunting life. But, I decided enough was enough and I want my floor back!
  • A See Through Bathroom- Lisa and I drove nearly 300 miles to see a see through bathroom. There will be more coming on this adventure this week. I even took pictures in the bathroom!
  • “I workout”- I’ve already shared that little catch phrase around here. And it continues. Of course, there were a few days past couple of weeks that I could barely move my arms. It’s been a big adjustment around here as we knew it would be. It takes away nearly half of my waking post-work hours.
  • Cards- I’m just now getting to mail out the July cards. . . so almost all of them are belated. I haven’t been able to get around to them but finally got them all made, addressed, and stamped, They are on the way! Of course, I realized I did not have addresses for quite a few folks. I can’t wait until our next church directories come out.
  • Headache- OK, not sure this is light hearted but it’s real. I have TMJ and headaches are simply a fact of life. You take what you’ve been given. This month has been no exception and I’ve lost some days in bed. As much as working out has been about taking care of ourselves, giving myself a few sick days has been just as much about taking care of myself.

So, that’s a few things that have been going on. Coming up on the blog:

  • Photography Syllabus: Focus- I took the pictures for this one yesterday
  • The See Through Bathroom Details
  • Template Scrapbooking
  • Camp Amy Update
  • A Scavenger Hunt
  • July’s Favorite Photo

IPhone apps I use: GymBio

Today, I thought I would share with you one of the many apps that I use on my iPhone. Cody and I are back in the gym these days lifting weights. I never thought I’d enjoy working out at the gym and lifting weights as much as I do. (Ok, the truth is I enjoy and “curse” it- often at the same time.) one of the things that has really helped me is the GymBio app.

This app has a number of features that I don’t use- keeping your measurements, setting goals, and a social piece. I use it for tracking what I’m doing, taking useful notes, and keeping track of time between reps.

Once you get your exercises entered, it’s really simple to use. You add them to the log and then you can just copy and paste your sets from day to day. A lot of times I’ll copy and paste all of the exercises I do and see what I get done.



One of the things that I love is that I can move to a machine and set it up for me easily. I make notes about the seat position and other adjustable items. I know immediately what weight to use- or I know I can raise if it feels like it’s time (sometimes I’ll even note that I want to try more weight next time)


I also appreciate that it helps me remember how many sets I’ve done because after a while it all becomes a blur- especially on things that have a right and a left side or the horizontal calf where I do sets with both feet and then single legs.

It also has a built in timer that starts when you finish the a set and stops when you push the start button for the next set. When you reach the rest from last time it starts to vibrate. So, if it was 45 seconds the last time I did this exercise, it’ll start to vibrate at 30 seconds. This is really handy.


Capture This: Ordinary Freedom

It’s July and in America, we’ve celebrated the 4th of July and our freedom.  We often thing of the grandeur of our freedom, but this month I’d like to encourage to capture ordinary freedom.

Feel free to interpret this prompt however you’d like.  Maybe it’s being free to act a little stupid (or to laugh and record):

Maybe it’s the small pleasures we enjoy.


Or enjoy our favorite past times.


Or whatever else you might think of.

Capture it! Blog it. Photograph it. Art Journal it. Scrapbook it. Talk about it. Video it. Journal it. Share it. However you want, capture it.

A Report from Camp Amy

Did you decide me in creating your own personal camp?  How is it going? Are you checking things off your list? Realizing you may have to cross a few things off?

Camp Amy is going strong though I’ve had been battling a headache this month. I may have to adjust my expectations at least a bit- I haven’t even seen any fireflies for the past week and I haven’t “caught” any. . . or perhaps I need to rethink how I will catch them. I didn’t make cookies for the troopers for the 4th of July but hope to make some later this month- I’m not ruling it out. I really haven’t had much time to go out with camera in hand- I’ve spent a lot of time indoors.

But, I’m checking things off my list.  We saw the fireworks with Whitworths- Check and Check.


Watched Baseball- Royals and even some college ball.


I tried a new spaghetti sauce recipe filled with fresh ingredients. . . We’ve got spaghetti all ready to go for easy dinners.  I actually have one more summer recipe to try with the tomatoes that Billy brought buy Sunday. (Shh! Don’t tell those two rascals above they came by the house.  The girls always want to come over and they were sound asleep and never got to get out of the truck on Sunday.)


Other things are in the works or being worked on.  I’ve not read each night but I’ve made time to read. Lisa and I talked tonight as a matter of fact and plan to do something next weekend but have no idea what- literally have not made any plans yet.

I’m enjoying my phone photography class- I’ve taken a bunch of pictures with my phone including all the square images you see here. I’ve have been super inspired by Hello Story as it began this week. Can’t wait to do some scrapbooking this weekend!  There’s still time to sign up for Ali Edwards Hello Story Class.



Now, the next thing I’d like to get off the list- swimming! I really wish we’d done that this evening but we’d had showers and thought the pool would be closed. Instead, we watched as others had fun in the pool and we worked out.  “I work out”. . . I can’t even think about working out without hearing Cody repeat the line to that song that has that line.  (Oh there’s a good bit of writing- “the line to that song that has that line”; I can’t remember what the song is called. Can you tell?).  He says it all the time now and it comes to mind.  Hmm. . . Maybe I need to add that to my list of things to scrapbook. I guarantee you that he’ll at least read it the same way he says it- and probably say it out loud- when he reads this post.

Still a Little Crazy

Last night, on a whim, we drove up to Kilgore for the local collegiate league’s all star game- starring five SFA players. We decided at 5 for a “7:00″ game. A quick change of clothes and we hit the road.

Check another item off the Camp Amy list- though I really had in mind some Royals baseball which we’ve been keeping up with lately.

We had a good time. As part of the deal I told Cody we could leave early- he was driving. And, he “made” me keep my word. I never leave a Ballgame before its over. It felt so wrong to be leaving at the end of 7 in what was quickly becoming a back and forth tilt.

My iPad was nearly dead so I didn’t bring it in to keep score. I quickly decided to keep score on my phone- roughly. LOL following one passed ball I moved one runner forward on a pass ball and the trailing runner on a wild pitch. That’s a talented 1-2 battery there. (I hit the wrong button and didn’t fix it.) Wild, reckless, freeing abandon.

I also took pictures on my phone and even a vine video.







Sketches and Templates


It was within my first year of scrapbooking that I found sketches and started using them primarily. At first, it was a way to improve the look of my designs long before I understood the design concepts. But, as my scrapbooking knowledge grew and I became much more involved with telling my story through my pages, I continued to use sketches because they simplify the process- it’s easier to focus on the story rather than where does this or that go.

Prescott and Canyon Lake


I quickly realized as I wanted to focus more on the story that the pictures paired with words could tell that sketches made things so much simpler. I could spend more time thinking about the story than the design.


I began to apply design principles like equal spacing etc to improve design but still often would start with a sketch either from someone else or one that I created.

antiquesandtrains copy

Of course, now, in the digital world, we have templates. It’s the same principle, but taken a few more steps that make creating layouts even easier. I remember the first time I used a template. Oh boy, I was so happy to see this change!


As time has gone by, I have gotten a lot more picky about the templates I’ll by- I’m a stickler for design theory- at least the basics. But still, I almost always start with a template.




Even today, when I want to create a layout even if it’s from scratch without a template, I create a sketch and then a template to work from. It just simplifies the entire process.

I’m a huge fan of making this process easier and knocking down the barriers. To me, sketches and templates go along way in that process. One thing you will notice if you ever take a class or read a post where many have used the same sketch/template, it’s amazing how different the same design can look. I find it’s true even in my own pages where I’ve used the same sketch or template.





This month I’ll share some more thoughts on sketches and templates.

Healthier 11.2

We’re back at it. We’re back at the gym after about a year off. I’m enjoying the small challenges I can get there- of course not so much enjoying the soreness I feel.


As always, eating healthier always seems to follow the work. One thing I can tell as we get back to the gym is that we know what to expect- we are just smarter.

While I was in bed with a headache, Cody went to the grocery store and was planning ahead. He bought lots of meat to grill, salad fixings, and baking potatoes.

This weekend we planned ahead for the weeks ahead and the time crunch we often feel when we spend at least an hour of our evening at the gym. He grilled up all that meat he marinated. We made Mexican meat from scratch- Coralyn’s recipe. And I made a big batch of spaghetti from scratch. We’ll put all of this in Food saver bags so that we can stick it in a pot of boiling water to heat it up. The meat can be added to potatoes and more.


It was a lot of work but it’ll certainly pay off. It was also a lot of mess. I wound up using two food processors, the blender, and the pasta making machine. I actually love it when I can feel like I’m using all my toys (but hate the clean-up)

We were salivating over the spaghetti yesterday. I made both the sauce and the noodles from scratch. I love to freeze spaghetti like this. The homemade noodles soak in the flavor and it couldn’t be easier to warm up. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.


Thanks sweetheart for getting the ball rolling on all of this and for continuing with the clean-up of the aftermath after I headed to bed.


About that 4th of July

Hey everyone, sorry I haven’t posted the last couple of days.  I started to title this one,” Down, But Not Out” but it really wouldn’t do justice to the evening that was my 4th of July.  I’ve been battling a headache and was in bed all day on the 4th getting out of bed just to see the fireworks- and more importantly- to spend some time with the Whitworth’s.  I was so glad I did from the moment the girls ran up to me.

We didn’t even have to make plans.  This is what we always do.  Mandy and Amy Lynn had called earlier in the week to thank me for another Ladybug Girl book.  She asked if we were going to Burgess, the feed store, for the 4th.  We laughed.  We both knew that’s what we always do.  Neither of us had any other plans but we knew that’s what we’d be doing.

So, Thursday, we went over to Burgess, well the grassy area across South Street from the 4th of July festivities, where we’ve watched the fireworks for years.  It’s out of the crowds and noise.  We arrived just a little after 7 :00 wondering what time we normally get there.  It was already starting to fill up.  We gather we normally get there a little earlier.  The Whitworth’s were already there.

It was so great to get to see them and to spend some time together with all of them. And the weather- was it really July? Of course it was, it was the 4th of July after all but it felt more like maybe May if not April.  We never got hot and we certainly didn’t melt.



Amy Lynn brought her new Ladybug Girl Activity Book.



She said all Amy’s must have blonde hair. (And after thinking about it, I couldn’t dispute that theory because the Amy’s I know are blonde).  She told Cody he had to share his chips after he got a handful from the bag of his chips that Amy Lynn had claimed.  She made Cody act like Otis the tractor while she was Otis’s puppy.  She didn’t even really watch the fireworks, she was Otis’s puppy laying down beside Otis (AKA Cody).  She did enjoy a few pink and purple fireworks and called the green ones “Boy Colors”.  Thankfully, she isn’t as shy of the camera as she was.



And yes, she likes to stick her tongue out.  I figure I can deal with that if she doesn’t shy away from the camera.


Callie had her own activity book but really wanted to draw in Amy Lynn’s.  She gave me a hug before she gave Cody a hug. (It’s ok honey, maybe she just knew you had your hands full with our cooler.)  I wish you could have seen her spitting out the seeds to the cherries.  She’s copied her sister and stuck her tongue out for pictures.  She, of course, makes some really great expressions. She said she was ready to go home as soon as the fireworks started.  It was dark and this girl loves her beauty sleep.  She sat in Cody’s lap during the fireworks and oohed and awed like last year.


They are both getting so big.

Of course, not too big for riding on shoulders.  Look at Billy’s look- I wonder where Amy Lynn got her shy of the camera phase.  He caught me.


I love this shot.  She was animated talking to Cody about something and using her hands the whole time.wpid5298-20130704_DSC_9934.jpg


While waiting for it to get dark, we walked over to the train tracks to check out a train.



While Mandy and I got some pictures of the girls (I did get a few without funny faces, but decided to roll with the funny faces), the guys of course figured out how many gallons of fuel the train took.



And then, this one here, well of course, he “caused” some trouble being incorrigible.  He rang the bell.



And guess who had to do it next.  You’d think he’d know better by now. . . .


It didn’t hurt anything of course. But someone got a really dirty hand.  Which Cody later let her wipe on his shirt.



Mandy took my camera for during our little walk and I love the shots she got.

There’s a whole series of these expression shots with Cody and Amy Lynn.



And shots of me with the girls.




And this one with all four of us.




It was such a delightful evening. It really brightened up the entire week.

Three Cheese Tortellini with Alfredo Sauce- His and Hers

So, today, I thought I would share one of easy go-to meals. We know the ingredients by heart and it’s easy to pick them up at the store and come home to cook. We usually get about three meals a piece out of this recipe so it’s great when things are busy. Well, great except it’s definitely not low cal or low fat.


There’s one catch. . . . Cody gets picky with this one so I have to make it “two ways”. And since I always call him in at the last minute to help me get it all together, I really have to indulge him. Despite peas being one of his favorite vegetables, for some reason he does not like them in this recipe. Beats me! So for us, it’s a his and hers recipe.


Here’s the full cast of characters.


A few notes:

  • I prefer the 3 cheese tortellini with the spinach noodles. I hate spinach but I like spinach noodles.
  • I use canned peas but you could certainly use frozen ones.
  • Here I used a ham steak but I usually buy ham that’s already cubed, we couldn’t find it.

It’s a simple recipe:

  • Cook and Drain the noodles
  • Make the sauce
  • Stir everything together
  • Done!

So, it’s really two recipes in one. The first is the Alfredo sauce. It began as an Olive Garden copycat. But, I think Olive Garden’s recipe definitely includes some garlic and this one doesn’t. I love this sauce. It’s my go-to for alfredo sauce and I never buy it. It’s just so easy.


Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo Sauce


  • 8 oz Cream Cheese (you can use the lighter version if you want)
  • 3/4 Cup to 1 Cup of Parmesan Cheese, Shredded (not the bottled kind.)
  • 1/2 cup Butter (1 Stick)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk


Put all the ingredients into a pan. Stir together constantly on medium heat until all the ingredients have melted and the sauce is smooth. Do not let boil.

Truth be told, I put the ingredients in on a low temp as I get the other items ready and then start to stir- but be sure you watch it!


If your ham is not cut up, you’ll want to do that. I prefer to rinse the ham to try to get some of the sodium out. Hint: I leave it in the colander and then drain the noodles on top (it’s all going into the same pot afterwards).


You’ll want to prepare the sauce as the noodles cook per the package instructions. They usually get done about the same time. Drain the noodles and place them back in the pan. Add sauce, ham, a dash of nutmeg, and the peas to your liking.





Notice the peas are missing? If you are me, you add the sauce, ham, and nutmeg and then dish up Cody’s meal and his leftovers and only then do you add the peas. But I love his help at the end and he does so much for me, I really don’t mind. We both have our quirks. He’s reading this and I’m sure saying, “that ain’t no lie”.


Yum, Yum, baby look at those peas! Another truth- this meal feels “grown-up” to me.

Three Cheese Tortellini with Alfredo Sauce

Three Cheese Tortellini with Alfredo Sauce


  • Alfredo Sauce (see recipe- technically you could use a prepared alfredo sauce)
  • 1 pkg Buitoni Three Cheese Tortellini
  • 1 Cup of Cooked Ham cut into bite size pieces (approx.)
  • Peas, drained to taste
  • 1-2 Dashes of Nutmeg


Cook the noodles per the package instructions and drain.

Add the remaining ingredients- use the amount of ham and peas you prefer.