Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's Saturday!!!

I love this time of year! Only three more weeks of work and I'm off for my summer vacation. My, what will I do??? :) :)

Anyone who is in education and has that summer break knows that you start off by finding the inside of your house - cleaning that is. This year I am so ever close to do what I have threatened for years - bring in a dumpster and throw everything that I haven't seen for a year or more.

I've muddled through the basement and have gotten rid of a lot of junk and trash but it doesn't look as though I've touched it. I wonder if we could get some type of tax break if we claimed our property as a waste site? Hmm...

At any rate the renovations to our home continues. The first of course was the replacement of our garage doors. We checked out both Lowes and HomeDepot. For some reason my husband preferred HomeDepot. It took a couple of weeks but they sent a contractor out and here's before and after.




Before



After

These doors are insulated including the windows. It is great to have windows as you don't have to put the garage light on every time you enter the garage from the inside. Also has automatic opening - now I have to remember another password. :( The guy who installed the doors left a remote control that lights up when you use it. The LiftMaster, as it's called, is sitting on my desk. One morning I noticed it blinking but didn't think anything of it. When my daughter left for work she inquired as to why the garage door was opened. Oops.

Today we are awaiting Davis Brothers Home Remodelers to come by with our contracts to redo the roof and our back decks! They do fabulous work. We had them back in the 90's to cap our trim. I'm taking the before pictures today and will post their progress.

The windows should be replaced shortly as well. We selected a contractor and chose our windows. I'm hoping they will arrive next week.

Meanwhile I have eliminated the gross green weeds growing within our driveway, pampered my new grass seed and have Miracle Growed the living daylights out of the backyard and frontyard - stock tip - buy oil - we're going to need a lot of gasoline to cut the lawns this year!

Well, it's getting close to the time that I can start my weekend exercise - manicuring the lawns and then the big exercise - digging the garden!

We used to have a garden every year but then a few years ago we stopped planting one. I can't remember why but...

Have a Firecrackin Good Day!



Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's A Week Old!!

Mother's Day is always a time when everyone reflects on their gateway to life. It's a special day when memories are refreshed by happy moments shared. I noticed as my mother got older she somehow lost all those memories of when we had our differences. I find myself doing the same thing now with my kids.

I've been very fortunate as all three of my kids have become very independent and lovable young adults. They have learned to tolerate me just as my husband has for years. They were all here to celebrate the big day last week and adorned me with cards and gifts. And my husband, Mr. Bill, gave me a gift as always on this special day. This year I received


Let me tell you about this camera. It is shock proof, water proof, and cold proof. Yep, you can have it in freezing temperatures and it will still take pictures. That will have to wait to be seen as we're headed to the tropics.

It also has a feature that you can tap the camera and it will go. The best part is that it is a compact 12MP, 3.6x zoom with another feature of fine zoom (higher magnifications than optical zoom without reducing the image quality). Of all the cameras I've owned, I have to say this is the most user friendly camera ever. The macro is cool as well as there is a super macro and a macro with LED. I'm still trying to understand that though.

There are so many things I like about the camera that it is difficult to list them all. Perhaps my husband noticed that it has dual stabilization. I'm thinking that feature didn't catch his eye because we'll be on moving objects on our vacation but because I have a normal tendency not to have a steady hand.

In addition to the camera Mr. Bill bought me



That way if the camera comes loose from my wrist, it will float!!!! Hmm... I wonder if it could hold me afloat.

I'm not finished. Mr. Bill also bought me:


It has a Velcro thingy that allows me to hook it to my belt loop or on my backpack.
In addition or if I don't want to use the case I received:



Now you have to figure that he had to buy me:


I shoot all my pictures in the fine mode so I need a lot of memory. I think Mr. Bill wishes that he could insert that 2 GB of memory into my brain.

But who really cares about all those features? The real issue here is how do the images look!

Well, here are a few that I've taken so far.

The "big ham" of the family had to have her picture taken.



I don't feel too well...

This was a basic picture taken on the auto feature. Chrysie was not feeling too well.

Then I had to try the macro - simple macro that is:



Just look at the droplets of water on this beautiful white Iris. I thought the clarity was fantastic!

Yesterday while I was playing in the yard I noticed our neighbor's Iris so of course I had to test the macro again.



That was the super macro.

Here's both the super macro and the macro LED. Naturally I don't know which is which.





There's still a lot to learn with this new toy so stand by I'll be posting my new learned things!!

Have a Firecrackin great Sunday!!


Friday, May 15, 2009

I've Been Trained Well

My day begins around 5:00 am when the alarm clock goes off. My best friend let's out a big yawn and groan and rolls over waiting for me to turn off the alarm and fall out of bed. You would think I'd get a hug or something but no, she's off and running down the steps to begin the first of many morning routines.

Fortunately the coffee is on that automatic timer so all I have to do is find the key to the back door to let her out and the cat in. The cat gets his morning treat while I pour my coffee. By then my best friend is ready to come in. Notice I say my best friend. I'm not really her best friend unless it's time for a biscuit or to play ball. I'm the sucker for being coaxed into playing.

I greet her at the door with a biscuit in hand. She grabs it and takes it to her favorite spot to eat. My husband and daughter make her sit and beg. Not me after all she isn't a dog, she's my master. By the time she's finished the first biscuit I've checked the preliminary events of the day on the computer. So while I refill my coffee, she has another biscuit and retires to bed again to await her best friends' awakenings.

I go off to work without any rituals but when I come home, that's a different story. On my way I pick up my mother and bring her down for dinner. Oh, that dog is something else. I know she can tell time as she is in the front window every day with her little body wiggling all over just to see, not me, but my mother. This isn't a fish tale. She can actually jump vertically, not touch my mother and give her a big, fat, juicy kiss on the side of my mother's face and land on all fours!

In my own defense I have to say that when I don't have my mother, I get a greeting too, but not kisses. Nope, I insist that she sit, body wiggling all over, and then she gets her loving and I get mine.

I generally start dinner while my mother and Chrysie are out on the deck enjoying the Spring like weather.



My mother and Chysie having a snack.

Chrysie lasts out there about four minutes when it dawns on her that she could be playing ball. We keep her yellow tennis balls in a green tin container. She'll whine until my mother let's her in. With that she heads straight to the balls, selects one and pesters me to play. I've been trained however to complete dinner and eat. The moment the last piece of food enters my mouth, Chrysie is there in my lap with her ball. While my husband cleans up, we go out and play.



Are you ready to play ball yet?

If anyone has a Springer, you'll know that they never know when to stop. We actually throw the ball no more then twelve times. She runs full speed to get it then takes the long way around the yard before bringing it back. By the time we are finished her tongue is hanging out.

As I head for the door she darts passed me and wiggles in the instant I start to open it. She heads right for the water bowl and being a water dog, sticks her whole head in to drink. When she comes up for air she turns and runs to get her ball again. I'm left with muddy paw prints and water all over the kitchen floor.

It's generally time for the news so I take a seat in my chair to relax - not. The next thing I know Chrysie has thrown her rope toy in my lap ready to go at it again. Most of the time I'll play. My mother is always afraid that we'll pull her teeth out. She's a strong little critter.

Chrysie is truly a ham, she loves to have her picture taken. My husband bought me a new camera for Mother's Day and guess who had their picture taken first? Yep, Chrysie! I haven't transferred them to my computer yet. I've had fun with many of her photos but my favorite shoot was when she was swimming in the Delaware River. Some guy saw her and nicknamed her Scuba Dog.





When my daily routines are interrupted, my whole day is messed up and for the last week every day has been messed up. There is nothing worse then when your best friend isn't feeling up to par. I mean you miss the warm welcomes, the unconditional love and you have no one to play with. Oh, yes, best friends can sometimes get under your skin and you can even be mad at each other but never for long.

Yes, our best friend, our dog, our Chrysie is sick. We found out the other day that she has Lyme's Disease. It happened so quick. The other day she began limping, not putting any weight on her front left paw. Naturally we thought she had sprained it as she runs full speed after her ball then puts her two front paws straight out to stop. Plus something similar has happened in the past but she was fine after a day or two. Not this time though. It got worse and she was hiding, not really wanting to see anyone.

I'm hoping the antibiotics that the doctor prescribed will do their trick and she'll be up and bounding around like we've always seen her. The first round however has made her sick so we are waiting for a new prescription today.

This morning the alarm went off. She didn't stir. I miss my best friend even though she loves me for my biscuit and ball throwing skills.


You can read all about our best friend in my Blog Firecrackinmama's World: Unconditional Love


Chrysie pouted the whole time we were on our cruise.


Someone actually bought some of these job description postcards. You can read about my unusual sales in my Firecrackinmama's World: Never Thought They Would Sell Blog.


This is a tribute to Chrysie as she had to babysit for the cat in the lounge chair while we were having fun.


This was Chrysie after she lost her best friend. They were great playmates but as my yellow lab got older Chrysie wasn't so kind to her - jealousy.

My best work with Chrysie is the following and I've sold copies of this too!


Well, I have to go to work now. Chrysie will be home with hubby supervising the guys putting in the new garage doors - I hope.

I'm really hoping that when my mother and I come home today we'll see our old Chrysie. I want my clumps of dog hair in the foyer, the muddy floors, the dog chasing the cats, the barking at other dogs out on walks and most of all, I want to play ball tonight.

Have a Firecrackin great day!!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Mother's Day - Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!

It's my day today so let's get it started!!!

When I went to bed last night I deliberately did not set the coffee for early morning rising. Nope I planned to sleep in until at least 7:00 am. When I went to bed last night it had to be at least 85 degrees outside so I dressed lightly for my dreamy night. When I went to bed last night I wasn't even thinking about Mother's Day. I was too tired from trying to clean out 10 feet of space so the guys could hang our new garage doors this week.

Well, I didn't sleep until 7:00 am. Nope I woke up at 5:41 am. Dressing lightly for a dreamy night was probably not a good idea as a cold front came through and it's 56 degrees! It wasn't the cold that woke me up. Nope with the dry cold front came the whopping winds. The blinds were banging, the leaves were swaying in the breeze (making noise) and the Spring birds were whistling up their "good morning tunes".

Now I had to drag myself downstairs to put the coffee on - should of, could of, would of - had it on if I hadn't preplanned. My eyes were opened enough to put the coffee and water in and I did find myself drooling with anticipation. Ok, so I went into my computer to start working on my Mother's "Mother's Day" gift. At 6:00 am I was really needing my coffee so into the kitchen I went only to find that I'd had a Senior Moment and set the delay mode!!! :(:(

All is well now. I have my coffee, hung up my youngest's wet scrubs, and put a load of towels in the washer. Still have to make eggplant parmigiana, my mother's favorite dinner, and spinach salad because I didn't do it the other night. I'll run to Target, for the large shopping items I didn't have a chance to get yesterday, after the towels dry and I can get cleaned up. That way the dog will be able to have her dinner, we'll be able to wash some more clothes and we'll be able to live more comfortably with additional paper products. If all goes well, I should be home in time to watch the Phillie's game. Sure would be nice if they won today.

I should run the vaccuum because we dragged dirt and wet grass into the house yesterday and the dog hair is gathering. I should dust as the winds created dust storms inside the house yesterday. All the windows that could open were opened, it was in the 80's. I should clean out some more junk in the garage and for that matter the basement. I'm glad I'm not working the trash truck this week. I should finish my mother's Mother's Day gift. I should go to the mall and buy new Spring clothes for work. I should make new designs for my online store. Ok, that's enough. I'm getting tired just from listing my should's.

My mother celebrated her 89th birthday Friday.



She's the last of the parents alive in both our family and my brother's family. I've always had her for Mother's Day. If you've read my previous Blogs you know she now "lives in the moment" but she enjoys it over and over. We laugh, not at her, but just because it's too sad not to. I must have received 50 "brownie points" Friday night because she kept re-opening the card my husband and I gave her. We finally put it in her birthday bag.

She won't remember today is Mother's Day but she'll tell us all about when she was young and growing up. I've tried to commit that to notes and blogging but because she took thousands of pictures I am able to make digital picture books with notes. That's what I'm making her for her birthday/Mother's Day gift. A digital picture book of her favorite time of life - traveling with my father during his WWII military days. She loves to browse through the 3 volumes I made at Christmas. You can read all about them in my Firecrackinmama's World: A Most Difficult Christmas Gift.

Last year I bought my mother a digital camera and one of those digital frames. I tried but she couldn't remember how to use either. I've taken over the camera and have the frame but nothing in it. Today I'll put her in front of my computer and put the family DVD slideshows on that I've made her. She loves to watch them.

I thought that if I started now I could make a digital picture book for each of my kids for next Mother's Day. As parents we took a lot of pictures but my mother must have taken 3 for every one of ours. Love my scanner!! Hmmm...

Well, I need to bring this to an end. It's now 7:38 am. The second load of towels are in the washer while the first load is in the dryer. I figure I'll have about an hour to work on the picture book.

So to all you Mothers out there - Happy Mother's Day!!!

For those who are really interested in how my Mother's Day will go - you can find out in my Firecrackinmama's World: Mother's Day


Monday, May 4, 2009

On The Sad Side

In October I wrote my Blog Firecrackinmama's World: The Ride Home in which I talked about a local icon "Mike" Urban, the farmer down the road. I learned yesterday while reading the obituaries that he passed away on April 29, 2009 at the age of 86. His brother still lives in the farm house but I don't know that he will continue their farm stand this year. I hope so.

I didn't know Mike or Dutch personally however I made sure I waved every time I passed them and sure enough they waved back. I know it's probably a great loss to Dutch. I extend my deepest sympathies.

I saw another icon in our community had also passed away. Jim's Shoe Repair in Southwood Shopping Center has been around forever. Although I didn't use his services that much, I knew he was there and could revive the worst pair of shoes to new. I read that his sons and grandson are selling his business. I hope someone buys it.

Change is inevitable and life goes on.

I think Urbans own the last acres of farm land on the West Deptford side of Ogden Road. The rest has been turned into developments. I hate to think that one day that land too will be converted. There's this one tree that stands out in the middle of one of their large fields that is absolutely perfectly shaped. I plan to take a picture of it every time I pass by. I'll be sure the next clear day to get the photograph.

I took a picture of Mike's tractor as explained in the above mentioned Blog. This is how I'll always remember him.



Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's Still Fun!

I started my Firecrackinmama.com site a couple of years ago, maybe three years, I've lost track. At any rate it started as a website for my home business, printing. I think it's gone through 25 or more revisions until now and I think I like it the way it is, or maybe not. Hmmm...

However printing became very expensive and I moved on. You can read about that experience in my Firecrackinmama's World: Create Your Own Blog. That was another lifetime and I'm now happily settled at my Firecrackinmama's Zazzle, Firecrackinmama's Tropics, Firecrackinmama's Christmas and FirecrackinFootWear. I measure major changes in my life by "lifetimes" and these were major changes.

I've always enjoyed living on the edge (Firecrackinmama's World: Living on the Edge) and venturing into these unknowns has been very educational. Today I'd like to tribute my Blog to a couple contributors at Zazzle who have been an enormous help in making this business adventure not only successful but fun. I know there have been many more and I don't mean to slight them, so in coming Blogs I'm going to make a conscious effort to recognize them as well. I am sure I'll accidentally leave someone out therefore I'm going to apologize in advance blaming it on Senior moments.

When I say successful, Zazzle has a program that when you sell over a certain amount monthly they will make you a "Proseller". I've managed to attain that status for a few months now. I think it's very surprising to most contributors because they are excellent artists, graphic designers and html literate, of which I have no skills.

This prestigious level has ignited my competitive side and lately I've found myself somewhat anxious about maintaining that level. Fortunately with the good weather coming in early I was able to recognize that I was starting to lose the "fun" of it. My creativity was being blocked by maintaining my "Proseller" level, neglect of household chores and guilt of not exercising. So I've started, notice I said started, to catch up on the household and have established a routine for exercising starting tomorrow. As for the Proseller, if I keep it, I keep it. I have to keep in mind how I felt when I first started.

I think I went with Zazzle because of their Forum. I had initially been with Cafe Press and noticed in their forum they were rather nasty to newbies whereas the Zazzle Forum was providing advice and "how to's".

The first contributor I have to recognize is DT. I am in awe of his ability to create, his knowledge of web design and his ability to market. Recently he has opened more niche galleries. Check them out and you'll see what I mean.

Ricaso_Wedding's Gallery at Zazzle

One of the sections is "Weddings By Month". I love this idea:





Another of his niche stores I am really impressed with is his Ricaso_Intros's Gallery at Zazzle. It is loaded with various styles, colors, sizes, and media type business cards. All you have to do is customize in the text provided areas. Or if you have your own background design, make your own. Here are a couple that caught my eye.

Once you click on the card you'll see that where DT has his text can be easily replaced with your selections.

Here's another one:



Or as I said create your own!


A second acknowledgment has to go to Rainmountain's Gallery at Zazzle, Nicole B. Photography. Rainmountain is another contributor I met when I first started. Like DT she has mastered the art of presentation, marketing and sharing her knowledge. Some samples that have caught my eye are below.


Rainmountain is a world traveler although I don't know if it is from choice or necessity. :)



Now if you are looking for great t-shirts, the place to check them out is tshirtfun's Gallery at Zazzle. I love the variety, humor and seasonal selections all in one place. Again tshirtfun has been a great help with html assistance, advice and has an excellent marketing ability.

If you're getting married, planning any party or just looking for a cool t-shirt, you're guaranteed to find it here.


Don't forget Father's Day is coming and who likes to wear t-shirts more then Dads?


I still have several others I'd like to recognize today but this has taken quite some time to put together because I get so easily side tracked looking at all their cool things.

The most important things I have learned from these three contributors is that I could never keep up to them in designing, marketing or providing good sound html information. However I can enjoy their work ethic, their success, and their friendship.

I have learned to be comfortable with my own abilities and maintain the original ground rule of this adventure: keep it fun. So I keep plodding along taking photos, playing with them and creating some of the most unusual gifts found on the Internet.

Well, have a Firecrackin Great Sunday!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

A bit slow here reflecting on our date night out to the Phillies' game. All I can say is that if you wanted a perfect date with the perfect soul mate then I had it Tuesday night. The weather was perfect, the timing could not have been better and the seats were absolutely great!

It was a culminating event as we had seen game four of the World Series. You can read all about that adventure in my World Series - Game Four - Adventure!

The World Series trophy was on display so we left early for the ball park. We easily parked, walked into the stadium and to our surprise we were right where the trophy was being displayed. It looked as though approximately 50 people were in front of us and the line moved quickly. We had our picture taken in front of the trophy. My husband said it didn't come out too well while my daughter asked if it was because of me. I look like a bag lady when I go to the games. He kindly denied it was me, claimed it was him. :)

The best part was that I asked the photographer if I could take a couple of shots myself. His response was sure take your time you stood in line. WoW!



What a beautiful sight!

We then headed over to Harry K's for dinner. Surprisingly there was no line and we got great seats. While we were waiting for our order my husband told me to look around and see how long the line was to see the trophy. A picture is worth a thousand words.



If you look in the background you'll see the line extends all the way down the wall leading to the trophy and up the ramp. The line immediately in the front of the image, is now the line to get into Harry K's. Told you we had perfect timing.

After a delicious dinner we headed out to find my daughter's friend who works at the park. Fortunately she was working on the same level as our seats and we easily found her.



It turns out our seats were directly across from her. So after giving her and her associate working with her a hard time, we moved on.



It was cool walking around the stadium as the crowd hadn't arrived and I had a chance to pause and take some pictures from different angles.



I love watching the phantavision (I think that's what it's called) so I had to take a picture of one of the cameramen who provides the entertainment. I really think he was checking out the stadium for some real pretty girls.

The next few pictures are self explanatory.







The last picture is from our seats. The beauty of this night was that we didn't have any obnoxious people sitting around us and we didn't have anyone that had to get up and get out 50 times during the game. This was quite unusual.

My brother's neighbor also works at the park. Evidently he works behind home plate in the premium area. It just so happens my husband spotted him. Here he is -



Hi Donnie!

Ah, here we were all settled in our seats watching the Nationals loosen up. If you're a Phillie's fan you know what happened next.















The Phanatic is awesome!

The stadium was slowly filling up and game time was near.



I think I forgot to say that Cole Hamels was pitching this night. Oh and they gave out Charley Manuel Bobbleheads. Amazingly we also have a Hamel's bobblehead.



Unfortunately Hamels sprained his ankle and had to leave the game.



While we were waiting for the pitchers to change we had a surprise visit from the one and only:



I'm going to end my reflection of that perfect night out with the following:





One of 3 homeruns!

Have a Firecrackin Great Saturday!

Go Phillies!!!