Friday, May 22, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Green Bean Bundles

Over the past few years, I've shared several of my best recipes and the stories that go along with them. Grandma's Pecan Pie and Magic Cookie Bars are two of my favorites. I have a set of 6x6 scrapbooks that hold the recipes that we have deem "scrap-worthy." The recipe I'm sharing today resides in the Side Dishes category, and, although it reads From the Kitchen of Melissa Gross, I've never actually made this dish. (However, I created quite a few of these 6x6 scrapped cards to share in a recipe swap, thus the addition of my name.)

Robbie is the one who always makes this yummy side dish. We first had these green bean bundles at a friend's home during our first year or two of marriage, and Robbie immediately asked for the recipe. Since then he's made them for various special occasions (and sometimes "just because") - they are delicious and also look very fancy displayed in a pretty dish. Enjoy!

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Not Really A Camera Review

Cate's prompt for today on her challenge to blog every day in May is to "review your camera." Honestly, I like all three of the cameras I currently use -  the Canon PowerShot SD870IS 8MP Digital Camera (our first digital camera, 8 years old now, small & easy to slip in a purse or pocket), the Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR Camera (a gift we gave ourselves for Christmas in 2011 before our 10th Anniversary cruise), and my Apple iPhone 4S (yes, it's probably time to upgrade soon).  I'm not really an expert in photography and continue to have the goal of learning to use all the features on the DSLR; however, I like to take lots of photos and scrap them with our stories and memories. I'm not sure that I could properly explain the difference in these cameras as my main criteria for which one to use depends on what I feel like toting around or (in the case of my iPhone) which one I happen to have with me when I want to snap a photo.

So, rather than a camera review today, I thought I'd share a few layouts I completed with photos (all taken with my iPhone) from Scrapbook Expo 2015 back in February. I created a pocket on this first layout to hold the tickets from the crops and class I attended.

Next I scrapped the photo collage I created with pictures of INSPIRATION on the show floor as well as the crop area.

And finally I used a map and some photos of the Gaylord Texas to tell the story of why Susie brought me a Coca-Cola.

How many cameras do you currently use? Would you be able to give a good review of them?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Craft Room Photos

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you will have seen photos of me scrapping away in my craft room. Some of you may even remember when I transformed the extra guestroom into my craft room a few years ago. Obviously this is one of my favorite places to be. However, it's not just the paper crafting supplies and the time I enjoy creating in this room that make it special. I've also filled this room with things that I love, things that make me smile as I look around, things that inspire me, things that remind me of friends and family, of times past and present. I hope these things will bring a smile your way today!

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - From The Archives (Sister)

Today I'm sharing a post from the archives here at Daily Life - Bits & Pieces. This is one of the posts that I'm most proud of because of the writing. I'd wanted to tell the story of my aunt, Sister, for some time, and Sian's Storytelling Sundays were the perfect push to get the words down on paper. When I clicked the Publish button on that post, I was a little nervous, wondering if I'd used the right words to share a very personal story that would honor a part of my family history. However, when comments from my blog readers began appearing, I knew that (at least that time) I had gotten it just right.

You can see the layout I created to go along with the story in my original post from August 7, 2011. At that time, I did not have many photos of Sister. However, now that Mama is scrapbooking and scanning many of her older photos, I have quite a few in my digital collection. Today I'm sharing my original journaling along with photos of Sister throughout her lifetime.

Sister was only 44 years old when she died.  The state school called early that Sunday morning to say she was gone.  I remember hearing Mama’s heart wrenching sobs coming from her and Daddy’s bedroom.  After years of taking care of her three daughters and Sister, Mama had decided to place Sister in the state school just 2 years earlier.

Evelyn Mae was born in 1942 in Mississippi. She was the sixth child of Tinie and Clora; however she was the first girl (who lived), and so everyone called her Sister. She was my aunt, my Mama’s older sister. In 1942, most women would have put Sister away in a nursing home or state school, but not my Grandma – she loved and cared for Sister until 1971 when the Lord took Grandma home.
Sister was born with mental retardation and physical disfigurements which included lobster claw hand deformities and a cleft lip & palate (my parents were able to have the cleft lip & palate fixed sometime in the late 70s). While Sister’s body grew to adult size over the years, her mental state remained that of an 18-month-old baby throughout her life.  She wore diapers from the day she was born until the day she died and never developed the capacity to walk.  She did, however, learn to crawl and pull herself up in a chair, she learned to show emotions by laughing, smiling, crying, and screaming, and she learned to say “Mama.”
I remember that sometime after Grandma died, Grandpa came to live with us – Mama, Daddy, me & my two sisters.  Mama had us three girls, ages 5, 3, and 1, plus Grandpa (who would often pass out unexpectantly) to care for, so Sister was placed in a nursing home nearby.  Mama went to visit her often, making sure she was cared for, but after Grandpa died in 1973, Sister came to live with us. (Over the years, we did have help from my aunt & uncle who took turns keeping Sister, too.)
The day Mama brought her home, she had a sore on her foot that was rotting her skin and muscle away. The nursing home had tied Sister to her rocking chair, which was tied to the doorknob in her room – these measures designed to keep Sister from crawling around and “bothering” other people in the home.  Sister didn’t know she was bothering other people any more than a baby would; she loved people.
My freshman year of high school, Sister went to the state home. I wish I could tell you that it was difficult for me without her there, but honestly as a teenager I was relieved that we would no longer have to endure the stares of strangers when we went shopping or to Astroworld or when my parents brought her to see me act in my high school’s theatre production of Guys & Dolls and she yelled out when she saw me. I no longer had to worry that I would need to change a diaper if Mama was sick (even though this was a very rare occurrence anyway). I wouldn’t have to give her a wide birth when she was angry and slapping everything within reach.
I didn’t realize at the time that I would also no longer hear her laughter, loud & uninhibited as only a young child can laugh. I didn’t realize I would no longer be able to sit in her lap and let her pat my head as if I was her baby doll. I didn’t realize the guilt Mama would feel for making the decision to place her in the state school. I didn’t realize how much resilience I had learned from all those years of people staring at us. I didn’t realize how I would regret not having appreciated the sacrifice Mama made, first taking care of Sister with three young daughters, then placing Sister in the state school so she could be there for her teenage daughters.
I hold a teaching certificate, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree. I’ve traveled around the world. Yet I don’t believe I’ve ever done anything that rivals what Grandma and Mama did, taking care of Sister for 44 years.

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Photo Crush

Today I'm waving to Sian and feeling good about completing the Simple Scrapper Photo Crush event this past week. I always enjoy Jennifer Wilson's organized approach to these events. She provided a workbook to fill out and follow along with each day's lesson, which consisted of a slideshow presentation centered around reviewing and developing a plan to organize digital photos.

Although my digital photos are already organized, I'm always interested in tips and INSPIRATION for getting and staying organized. The step-by-step approach in this event was great for reviewing my current digital photo storage and workflow and helped me identify a few things I need to tweak in my process.

First, I took time to re-name my folders. I keep my photos in yearly folders then monthly folders then event folders (if needed). However, some of the folders had the year first, then the month, others had the month first then the year. This is a very small thing, however it makes me immensely happy to know they are all now named consistently now!

The second issue, which I will be working more on in the coming weeks, are the scanned and digital photos from Mama. As Mama has been scrapbooking and organizing photos over the past couple of years, she has scanned many older photos. She recently brought me a flash drive with these photos, and I uploaded them to a folder on my computer. Here's a partial look at the files I received.

Most of these folders contain only a few photos each as whatever software she was using created a new folder for each scan session. In addition, the folder names do not necessarily indicate what's actually in that folder. The photos range in date from the 1940s to last month! However, I am thrilled to have these photos! I used one of the pages in the Photo Crush workbook to come up with folder names that will help me work through these photos and get them organized so that I can enjoy them.

The third and final issue I'd like to address is automated backup for all my files (not just photos). I do back up our computers each month to an external hard drive, and I have my highlight photos uploaded to Shutterfly as an offsite backup. However, I need to research and decide on a better system of backup that will be automatic and more efficient.

I'm very glad I participated in the Photo Crush event as it provided INSPIRATION for getting my folders named consistently, for making a start on organizing Mama's photos, and for thinking about how I want to restructure my backup system.

Did you participate in this event? What do you use for backing up your photos and other files?

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Signs Galore

Remember this photo from my post at the end of April? Cheri and I enjoyed an afternoon stroll around the Frisco Mercantile Antique Mall, and the quote on this bag was perfect for our photo.

There were lots and lots of quotes and words throughout the mercantile - on signs, on pillows, on towels, etc. While Cheri was finding INSPIRATION for new mixed media projects, I was snapping photos of my favorite signs. Take a look and see if you can find a favorite among them.

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.