Sunday, June 29, 2014

One of These is Not Like the Other

We went on a little road trip last week to Missouri. 

Traveling in the middle of our country.

People asked us where we are from, and that story is a bit complicated, (I make it complicated) because we live in Illinois.... but I'm from Wisconsin and Jeff is from Indiana.  I'm not sure anymore what my kids say.  But currently, they are both living and working in Missouri.

For our summer vacation we went to see them and be total tourists.  I like that!

One of our first stops for a picnic lunch was in Lincoln, Illinois.  We got off the interstate and wanted to find a park to enjoy a quiet lunch.  This beautiful huge tree was our chaperone. 
I'm talking HUGE! 
It was well over 100 years old..... after lunch we went Geocaching at a nearby cemetery.  It is awe inspiring to read the gravestones and know that amazing lives ended 106 years ago in that very spot!
Once you leave the quiet country side and get moving onto your next destination, zooming by masses of engineered steel at 80 miles an hour.  It too is an amazing site to see!  How does one design and engineer a bridge that goes over water, stands up through severe mother nature, yet holds cars and still looks beautiful?

And then to end up at the peak of Missouri Wine Country and look out miles and miles and see beautiful blue skies and lush green foliage and a quaint little town. Hard to believe 80 some years ago, everything was topsy turvey with prohibition and this winery became a mushroom farm!

Finally, a beautiful HOT morning for a walk on the Katy Trail, just down the road from Maggie's B&B in Hermann, Missouri.  The Katy Trail runs largely along the northern bank of the Missouri River, it is the country's longest Rails-to-Trails trail.
Stay tuned to another post about our Road Trip through Missouri.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Show Me Your Heart

You can be choose happy and be happy if you set your mind to it.

You can find anything, if you look hard enough.

I've followed different blogs long enough now to know that a lot of people look for a sign, anything that might be an affirmation of what they are doing in their daily life. 

One thing they look for, but most happily find along the way, are natures' hearts.

So, I am playing along.

On our recent trip to Missouri.... the Show Me State.... or Show me a SIGN state... I found a couple hearts in our daily walks.  Some are more pronounced.... and some you might have to squint and see sort of the shape.... but they are hearts none the less...

I was trying to play around with Photo Shop on this one, trying to get the heart shaped rock to stand out a little bit more.  But it has been a few months since I "played" with photo shop, and I don't quite remember how to enhance the color the way I wanted to!

There are a lot of winerys in Missouri.  Who knew??? While walking though a grapevine patch I saw this little green leaf peaking out.  Although most of the grape leaves are heart shaped,  this light green one with a little sun highlight on it, poked its way through.

This heart looked a bit tough.  But the sun streamed through the trees on Katy Trail while we walking about 4 miles round trip.  I like the ones that are a little worn.  Those hearts have gone through a lot.

Stay tuned to more posts on my blog about our road trip to visit our kids this summer.  They both are living in Missouri!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Buy More Creaative Greetings!

Today I'm getting back to some of my whimsical paper crafting roots!

There is no doubt about it.... the satisfaction of creating a greeting card from bits and pieces of paper, some glue and doodles and a few other things too, makes me so happy!

There is a lot going on with this card!!! But, at least they are all in the same color scheme.... monochromatic.
I think maybe 9 layers of patterned paper.  A few doodles, a punch out and a sentiment.  Is it too much???  I was by the card aisle in my local grocery store and I saw they are selling Papyrus cards.
The word Papyrus (pah·pie·rus) comes from the earliest form of paper crafted from the papyrus plant. PAPYRUS was founded in the family kitchen of Marcel and Margrit Schurman in 1950.
About Papyrus
Inspired by a love of fine art, they had a vision for products of uncompromising quality which provided the starting point from which genuine personal connections are made. They presented their products in an inviting gallery setting to encourage engagement with the products and with a friendly helpful staff.
Their cards start at $6.95Hello Smiley Face

And yes, you can find some cheaper on clearance.


I went out and splurged on a cute die-cut set that has this HELLO punch, the arrow punch and the Instagram photo holder punch!

But to compete ( ha ha) I need to get up-to-date tools and embellishments, markers, paints and colors!

Know anyone that you'd like to send an original creative greeting to?  My cards start at a more reasonable price of $3.00.  And I definitely promise you will not find another card on the market that looks like one made by prdesigns!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

To Observe or Not to Observe

verb: observe; 3rd person present: observes; past tense: observed; past participle: observed; gerund or present participle: observing
  1. 1.
    notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant
Do you know what journal prompts are?
They can be for a creative writing entry or an artistic entry. 
Thinking of what to write is the most difficult part of keeping a regular personal journal.  (or for that matter, a blog that has a TWIST on LIFE)
There are tons of places to find things to write or draw about.  Being given one word to write about or draw/doodle in a journal is a popular prompt. 
This week, the house of SHINE has given the prompt to observe.
Going back a few years when I was blogging about LIFE'S simple pleasures.... people watching was one of my posts.... I guess that qualifies as observing.
I enjoying observing human nature.  I get to do that a lot at my job.  I might have less than a minute to be around a customer and I have to spew out a lot of information in a very short time to convince, entice and placate a customer.  Sometimes, a smile alone doesn't quite do it!
So, what I observe is that some customers are very pleasant and others don't hear a word you say to them.  And I'm learning to NOT take it personally .... but if I don't take my job seriously... I can't give quality customer service .... which is an affect on my personal way of conducting my job, it effects the way I work to the best of my ability.
I observe LIFE all the time.  It's a good word to journal about.  I think today, I need to observe my backyard as opposed to customers in the store I work at. At least in my backyard I feel really good about my observations!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's Only a Stamp

I'm sure that in just about every job, employees have their good days and their bad days.

You can have a supervisor that is not very supportive, and you can have a worker that is just plain lazy.

I have worked in a lot of different environments through my years ... from a middle school to a ophthalmologist office, from a manufacturing  plant to a community theatre... all kinds of different places.

Right now I'm working in retail.  I can never predict a days' activities or a type of customer.  And because I can... I am enjoying being 'amongst the people'.

Most of the time, it really is a good thing. 

I like talking to people. 

I like that I can organize things daily in my job. 

And, I like that I can think of different ways to handle weird situations.

I would like to tell you some of the 'horror' stories.... and maybe throughout my blog postings I'll tell you about the rude customers, or the ones who smell of cigarettes, alcohol, body odor and even the ones who don't speak much English.... but that will be for another day.

Hopefully, this is a feel good story.

Not only do I work at the cash register... I put out a lot of 'goods'. 

We either have textiles, which are clothes or we have goods, which we call house 'wares' at our store.    Most items are mainly 'used' items, since we are Goodwill and the 'stuff' is mostly donated to us.  I put out blenders, coffee makers, silverware, vases, kids toys, pictures, stuffed animals, baskets, drills, hammers, mirrors, suitcases, yarn and stamps ... I think you understand what I'm talking about, right???

Last week I was on my break for lunch and happened to be in the employee lunch room with one of the supervisors.  We were talking about a few different things.  I asked him what he liked about his job and we went from there to different topics.  One thing we talked about was that he couldn't believe how many 'former' employees never got their last paychecks.  I suggested maybe that they had direct deposit into their bank account.  He said that was entirely possible, but they still get their pay stub and for some employees, he had 3 or 4 envelopes in the safe.  He thought it was bad on a managers part that they never handed them out.  But that reminded him that he needed to go to the post office to get stamps so that he could mail out the 'checks'.

Here is the honest to God truth.

About 2 hours later I had a customer come up to me and show me a picture frame.  I wasn't sure exactly what he was trying to show me.  It was a nice frame ... but he said look at what is behind the glass.  To me, it looked like the paper that has a certain colorful image on it that comes with the glass frame. You know, like those beautiful families all smiling that they have in the frame so you know where you are supposed to place the photo?

He asks me if I know what that is, as he is pointing to the center of the glass.  I just said it looked like a picture of some southwest scene.  No, he said.... those are postage stamps.  I look at him and say.... oh, you mean someone took a picture of the stamps and framed it.... no, those are real stamps. 

I say, well isn't it your lucky day!!!

And he said that maybe I would want to take it off the selling floor.  Those are 'real' stamps.

I again say, are you sure you don't want to buy it, it's only $2.99??

No, I couldn't do that, he says. This is Goodwill and I wouldn't feel right.

So, I take the frame in the back where our warehouse and pricing areas are, and pull the back off, take out the cardboard and find that indeed there are two books of postage stamps worth $7.40 each.  I took it to the supervisor I had been talking to and asked him if first of all if it was okay what I did, and then said with an astonished look on my face.... 'can you believe we were just talking about stamps?'

He smiled and said that kind of stuff happens a lot.  And yes he would use the stamps.

I changed the price on the frame from $2.99 down to $1.99 and went to put it back on the sales floor.

I saw that kind gentlemen looking at other items and thanked him again for his honesty and kindness.  And said no good deed  goes un-noticed.  He just smiled at me and said it was okay.

About a half hour later I found two more picture frames laying out of place in the furniture area.... and each frame had two more sets of decorated postage stamps in them.  I think he had moved them out so I would find them???  All totalled, it was over $44 dollars worth of US Postage stamps that someone had donated inside the picture frames.

It's Possible!!
There are good people in this world. 
I hope that guy had a great day. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What Empty Nest?

My post almost looks the same as one I posted a few weeks ago, but it's different.

Now there are two birds' nests in my Boston Ferns hanging from my front porch. 

Not only am I trying my green thumb at growing 3 Boston Ferns, now I'm having to be careful around 7 eggs, 2 momma birds and a few other things....The house sparrow is strongly associated with human habitations, and can live in urban or rural settings.

So, the nest above is the newest one. It's in the hanging basket closest to our front door.   Looks like only 4 eggs.

And here is the other nest, the original one I posted about.  It is hanging in the center of our porch.  It had 9 eggs at one point.  Having the plants out in the rain and wind, one egg fell out (Jeff touched it when he put it back) we found another one on the porch floor.  In open nesting sites, breeding success tends to be lower, since breeding begins late and the nest can easily be destroyed or damaged by storms .  Awe, and poor thing... one has hatched but doesn't look alive.
Clutches usually comprise four or five eggs, though numbers from one to ten have been recorded. At least two clutches are usually laid, and up to seven a year may be laid in the tropics or four a year in temperate latitudes.
I haven't found anything yet in the last hanging basket furtherest from the front door.  It has been fun watching Mother Nature work in our own front yard.  It will be interesting to see the survival rate of the little birdies..... and my Boston Ferns!!! Stay Tuned!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Splish Splash

Well, I've been at it again!


Last month I saw a really neat PIN on Pinterest and I thought.... I can do that.... so, here is what it was....

Using three similar shaped but different sized Terra cotta planter pots and a large drainage saucer, I made a really. really cute bird bath for my secret garden.

It's about 20" tall.  It's small and compact, and I'm so excited to be finished painting it.  I could doodle all day, trying to make each flower bud look almost real.... or adding wings and antennas to the bugs, or getting the shading just right.  I used acrylic paint, blue painters' tape, a sharpie marker and a Hi-SHINE finishing gloss. 
I'm not sure how much water it will hold, or even if a little bird will take a bath in it.... but it is a Pinterest Success!!!!
On the top saucer I painted a sun SHINE mosaic.  Some day (it is POSSIBLE), I will work outside my comfort zone and make another mosaic tile sculpture. 
Meanwhile, look how that baby SHINES!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Pocket Change

I may not think BIG .... like changing the whole world's thinking BIG... but I am trying to make a difference in my own little corner of the world.

Honestly, I LOVE dreamers!  I want to co-exist next to them and take some of their over flow of creative juices, their excitement and enthusiasm ... and if I believe in their cause, I want to learn from them and support them.

And if along the way ... I get a few little treats from their huge heart of generosity, that's not a bad little perk!!!

As many of you know, I have been an active participant of the House of Shine for over 6 years now. 

I admire Dr. Claudia Beeny and her BIG ideas ... The House of Shine is a high-energy gathering place for anyone committed to being their best and to bringing out the best in others. People who shine share common characteristics, so we make it our business to teach, promote, and celebrate the ten principles we consider most essential:
Be Present
Use your Strengths
Keep Perspective
Realize the Impact of Little Things
bring out the Best in Others
Reject Mediocrity
Be Relentlessly Passionate
Be Accountable
Spread Shine

These are all characteristics that are most admirable, don't you think? 

Although it's quite small, in my corner of the world I've recently come to a realization, another aha moment in my life (I just love that term ....)

I may not be trying to get in contact with Oprah and her magazine O!  to spread SHINE like Claudia is ... I'm trying to find ways to incorporate the Principles of SHINE at my part-time job at Goodwill Industries.
At times I am frustrated with the way customers think (or don't think) .... Like being one of the first customers in our store  at 9:05 am and purchasing $4.29 worth of items and paying a thrift store with a Hundred dollar bill ... but I'm trying to turn my thinking around. I also am so confused when people complain to the Cash Register Sales Associate about the 'prices are too high' .... I don't price the  items it's standard from the store manager or corporate.  In my mind all I can think is, if you don't like the prices .... then don't shop here!!!  Or, when they ask if we can give them a better deal because the 'donated' item has a scratch on it ..... remember.... this is Goodwill!!!!
Recently, I've been keeping change in my pocket while working the cash register.  There are times when little kids drop their crumpled dollar on the counter to pay for a toy figurine and they are short ten cents because they forgot about Illinois state tax!  I help them out and add a dime from my pocket. Or  someone only has 2 pennies and they need three so they don't get a whole bunch of change back... I dig in my pocket and find that one penny.
I must admit that some people are surprised by my 'generosity'.  Literally were talking pennies and quarters here .... but it's a start.  I often look them in the eye and just ask that when the have the opportunity to pay it forward to someone else.  I thank them for supporting Goodwill.... a hand  up ... not a hand out.... and wish them a good day.

This is a quote from Bill Gates, I think he knows what he is talking about.  Stay tuned to more adventures with my job as I try to make 'change'  and  create an environment that makes our happy customers even MORE happier!!!!


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