Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter, Spring and Little Red Riding Hood

I love Easter. It's the most special day of the year from a spiritual standpoint, and I loved the opportunity to spend some quality time pondering the significance of that amazing day over two thousand years ago when the Savior conquered death, and gave each of us the opportunity to live again with Him.  Here's a video that you might enjoy, that shares the most important purpose of his sacrifice, death and resurrection.  Because of Him.

We had our friend Cecilia over for Easter dinner Sunday night. It was a lovely meal. Bruce and I split the cooking. He made fabulous double baked potatoes, and a yummy salad. I made a nice rosemary glaze for our baked chicken, and some crescent rolls. Cecilia brought dessert.  I had fun decorating the table- it was a multi-day process, and it paid off. Everything looked perfect!  I even did a layout about the table. It was done for a challenge on 2Ps to share an Easter tradition. I thought my table decorations warranted tradition status. (You can read about another Easter table here. I wish I had some of those decorations here in New Jersey!)

Table credits: Centerpiece (wooden basket), Easter grass, cardboard baskets: Target. Linens and dishes: Ikea

One of the little traditions that I do for almost every special family dinner, is to make little place cards for the table. I thought you might enjoy seeing my little running bunny cards, on the layout above. I did the artwork in Adobe Illustrator.

Speaking of Adobe Illustrator, here's another project I just completed.... Little Red Riding Hood. Illustrator used to be my software of choice, years ago, when I first started doing computer design work. I started using it in about 1995 or 96, and I got fairly proficient. But then I pretty much abandoned the program for over twelve years, preferring Photoshop. But when I went to work at Spin Master, I had to use Illustrator again for some projects, and I was so rusty. Still am! There are some things I need it for at work- creating label art, fabric repeats, and control drawings (technical drawings) for toys. But I still prefer Photoshop for my other types of drawings, and of course, my digital design work. But I practice whenever I can to enhance my skills. I thought Little Red would be a fun project!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cherry Blossom Time

Surprise, surprise! There is a park in New Jersey that has more cherry trees than even Washington DC. I didn't know that! But I found out this week, and we visited the lovely and spectacular Branch Brook Park in Newark with our friends the Harpers last evening. Although much of Northern New Jersey still has bare trees and few flowers, there are flowering trees galore to be found all around the area. And nowhere were they more in abundance than in Branch Brook Park.

The hour was late, and the light was fading as we walked through the lovely paths and under the cherry trees. But the soft light made for some pretty photos, showing contrast and subtle color that were breathtaking.

We also visited the nearby Sacred Heart Cathedral, where they were just starting a special Good Friday service, complete with a capella choir. We sat in the back to catch a half hour or so of the service. The cathedral is just spectacular. Bruce and I kept trading back and forth with the camera because there were such dramatic photos waiting to be taken.

Here are a few more photos, I hope you enjoy seeing the spectacular beauty of nature, and the incredible accomplishments of people of faith, in erecting such a beautiful and majestic house of worship.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1962

I was a fifth-grader in 1962, and considered myself rather a tomboy. The two things I loved to do most in the world were read, and draw. My nose was always in a book, my pencil or pen was always drawing on any surface available. Sometimes even in my books! (Well, I never really drew on the pages of the book, but if the illustrations of the book I was reading weren't up to par, I would draw my own, and stick them in the pages of the book).

As I've done with previous Throwback Thursday posts, (see here, and here and here) I like to draw myself in a favorite outfit of the day, and share a little about it, and what I was doing at the time.

So, this early '60s ensemble was one I was particularly proud of. Of course, since I am wearing slacks, this was not a school outfit. Girls were not permitted to wear pants to school when I was a child. It was not until I was a sophomore in college that I was finally free to wear pants- and by then it was the 1970s.

So, I remember my lovely lined wool black watch plaid slacks. Living in California, I didn't have much occasion to wear wool pants, but I remember these so well. They had a crisp crease down the front, and they fit me just perfectly. The top I wore was a trendy green fuzzy sweater-like top, with ribbed collar and cuffs, and a couple of green pearl buttons at the neck. It was GREEN! I mean kelly green, shamrock green, green Lifesaver green. Not sure how I ended up with green, because green has never been my favorite color (until recently), but I wore a lot of green as a kid. Maybe it was my green eyes!

I had just started wearing glasses. Cat-eye glasses were in style, but there was no way I was going to wear something pointy and edgy. I chose instead, silver blue frames, with metal on top, plastic around the lenses. I was not happy to wear glasses, so I wore them as little as possible. Which wasn't really possible, as I was horribly nearsighted. Just another nail in the coffin for a self-conscious, short,  pre-adolescent tomboy.

My shoes were Keds. Plain old navy Keds, worn with white bobby socks. My shoe of choice for the last few years of grade school, and first couple of years of Junior High. My favorite colors of Keds were black, white, red and blue. As I got a little older, I stopped wearing socks with my Keds, and I reached a milestone of my life- I became a teenager.

But that was still a few years away.  Here's a layout I created a few years ago about my fifth grade year. In my school photo I'm wearing that fuzzy green top, obviously with an unseen skirt of some kind.

I hope you enjoyed a little blast from the past, window into another time, and glimpse of the life of a perfectly ordinary little California girl of the '60s.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grover Cleveland

Yesterday Bruce and I decided to visit the Grover Cleveland birthplace in nearby Caldwell, NJ. Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. How, you might ask, could that be? He was the only President that served a term (winning the popular vote), lost his re-election (which he won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote), then won the next election. He is also the only President to be married in the White House.

Grover Cleveland was born in this two-story parsonage in 1837, the son of a Presbyterian minister. The family left Caldwell when Grover (actually Stephen Grover) was a child. He eventually ended up in Buffalo, where he was an attorney.  He became the mayor of Buffalo, then the Governor of New York. He was elected President the first time in 1884. He was a bachelor, eventually falling in love with the daughter of his law partner.  They married in the White House in 1886. Frances Folsom Cleveland was only 21, Grover 49. It was quite the event in American history- the whole country fell in love with the beautiful Frances, and followed their relationship and family life with great interest. They had five children.

We had a delightful tour guide, who gave us scads of interesting information and stories. We were the only ones there, so she had plenty of time to share lots of background information on the Cleveland family.  The only negative part of the entire tour was that I was unable to take photos in the house, except for one room. I don't know the actual reason, except the tour guide said all New Jersey State Historical sites have the same rule. I occasionally find historical sites and museums have non-photography rules, but it's usually because of artwork (copyright issues) or damage from flash photography. Rarely do museums forbid photography altogether.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Old Friends

I have a dear friend named Linda. We met in 1986 when our family moved to Rhode Island, when I went to work for Hasbro. We went to the same ward (church congregation), and soon discovered that we both played bluegrass and traditional music. Linda was a bit more into Country music, as she grew up in Oklahoma and Kansas, and her Dad was a professional country musician.  We soon found ourselves getting together weekly to play music. I played the autoharp, guitar and banjo, and Linda played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo and mandolin. We shared our favorite songs, arrangements and harmonies, and had such a great time! A wonderful friendship developed. We often performed together for church events, small gatherings, and even a venue or two. Then we moved away in 1990.  Through the years we stayed in touch, and there were quite a number of times that I went back to Rhode Island to visit, and often, to play music.

There were some years in the late '90s and 2000s when I would go to New York from California each February, to attend the New York Toy Fair. I often scheduled my trip to fly into TF Green Airport in Warwick, RI instead of LaGuardia, and stay with Linda and her husband Kevin for the weekend, then take the train down to NYC, attend Toy Fair, then go back to RI and fly home. My autoharp would go with me on those trips, and Linda and I would take the opportunity to play together. We were a bit rusty. Our voices weren't quite what they were in our younger years. Sometimes songs were forgotten (although Linda kept a meticulous list of our repertoire) and chords didn't come easily. But still, that music was one of the bonds that cemented our friendship though 3,000 miles separated us.

Since we moved back to the East Coast 18 months ago, I've been to Rhode Island several times to visit Linda and play music with her again. In September her dear husband Kevin passed away. It was a sad trip to Rhode Island for his funeral, and no musical instrument accompanied us as we drove the few hours to attend the service. But we went back again in November, and played some music, even though it was a difficult time for her. But music can soothe wounds and comfort the grieving, and I think our playing together was a chance for her to forget her troubles for a few hours.

This past weekend we went once again to Rhode Island, and spent the night and most of a day with Linda, watching the General Conference of our church, and playing sweet music together. I had Bruce take pictures of us together. I don't think we have a single picture of us playing together from those years we were living near one another. Wish we did!

Now Linda will be moving soon, out West to live with one of her sons and his family. I'm sad that my music buddy will be leaving me this time. I guess I'll just have to take a trip to Hayden, Idaho one of these days, autoharp in tow.

I'll miss you, Linda!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ocean State

More photos of our weekend in Rhode Island last weekend... Saturday evening and Sunday were gorgeous in the Ocean State. We stayed with our friends, the Archibalds, and we took a little driving tour of Newport and the nearby coastline. Lots of photo ops, so I made a little layout of a few of the resulting photos. Notice how I cleverly used 'ocean' photos only in the OCEAN section... now isn't that special? (Add smiley face here)

Some points of interest in the above layout: Bellevue Avenue & the Breakers (Vanderbilt) Mansion in Newport, and Prescott's Headquarters in Portsmouth

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunset in Tiverton

I'm really not that great at taking sunset photos. Actually, truth be known, sometimes I think my iPhone takes better sunset shots than my DSLR. (Perhaps it would help if I would learn to use the manual modes instead of always shooting auto. But then I'd probably miss every shot, setting it all up.)

We just got back from a weekend trip to Rhode Island to see friends, and last night after dinner, our friend Leon told me to look outside at the sunset. (They live directly across the street from the Sakonnet River, which is part of the Narragansett Bay.)  The sunset was stunning, so I grabbed my camera, walked across the street, and shot a bunch of pictures with both my camera and iPhone.
I thought you might like to see a few of them:

This one was taken with my iPhone. I actually think in this case, the regular camera photos look better. But the phone pics are pretty decent.
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