Focusing On Life - 52 Photos

My weekly blog postings for this blog hop are archived here after each new Saturday posting.
Focus On Life - Week 49 - Add A Little Sparkle
As Sally has written:
There is plenty of sparkle in the Orlando area around this time of year. Most people know about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World, and after being in this area, we have enjoyed it with the family along with the parade, so here is the first of sparkles during the Holiday time.

The Orlando Museum of Art holds a yearly event titled the "Festival of Trees". It is a fund raiser done in the month of November, that really puts a sparkle in the air and the eyes of all who attend it.

But by far the best part of sparkle for the holidays lies in the beautiful faces that grace my own home, and truly brightens my inner glow.

Focus On Life - Week 47 - Centerpiece

I took the focus of this week literally, because I so enjoy centerpieces for all the reasons Sally has mentioned in her post, both in the creation of, and then the total enjoyment of them as I pass by each day. It is the time I allow artificial flowers the same esteem as fresh flowers as I am too selfish to see them dye off after only a few days. Here are three of the many I have created over the years.

This is the main one that remains on the dining room table most of the year, but currently resides on the sidebar, while the table is being prepared for the Thanksgiving dinner later this week. The crystal vase is a dear gift from a long ago friend, and the multitude of flowers were purchased over many weeks (and just as many discount coupons) from Michael's, each carefully chosen to blend with the next.

This one, I delighted in creating when my youngest son prepared to be married, and the orchids and greens gave me the same joyous feeling as the days leading up to his new life. It now resides on the coffee table in our living room, a sweet reminder of his happiness on that day.

By far my favorite, the one I recreate each year is unlike the others, in that there are no flowers spreading up and out over the table. A square challenger dish with aromatic potpourri in a woodland scent surrounding three candles. It is for my Christmas table, the three candles representing Jesus, Mary and Joseph, sitting amidst the unadorned splendor of that day. It does not tower over the table so that it can be viewed by all at our table but not obscure their view and enjoyment of each other.

Focus On Life - Week 43 - In the Shadows

Sally has asked us this week to capture what is intriguing about light and shadows. I give you my thoughts after looking out at the stream one morning.

Morning sun on the crystal clear mirror. The calm stillness. The scent of the morning dew fading off the blades of grass standing in place. Azure blue sky dotted with wisps of lacy white. The only sound, the gentle flapping of a crane flying low in the distance. Not even a hint of breeze to move the leaves of the trees around. Has time stood still? Or is it that my breathing has stopped? No, just slowed to serenity of it all. My eyes can still see the beauty. They have not gone dark, but the darkness is still there, waiting
Focus On Life - Week 42 - All in a Day!

This week's prompt from Sally came on Sunday, and I knew what I was in store for on Monday, so had the camera ready, but it took me until Friday to recover and get this post up!
Time to head to Grandma's house!
Foreboding of what is to come!
First, Breakfast and some imaginary cooking!
A few moments stolen to package up custom order.
Then, coloring and Play-Doh time.

Then lunch.

Boys are EASIER!

Grandma request for Justin Bieber jewelry!
Fighting over who is gonna marry him!

At it for hours!

Two sets of parents made "pick-ups",
now on to sewing table skirt for other DIL requesting it.

OH, SO ready for this!
Focus On Life - Week 41 - Connections

The prompt for this week ~ Connections ~ by our wonderful host Sally Russick, brings me first to this very Blog Challenge. It is so obvious we have made many wonderful connections through out the year, with each other, and because of her vision. Thank you for the ever so sweet comments you have made each week. I treasure them all.

In my personal life, as Sally asked in the latest email, it has been a fantastic week for me.

(OH Boy, here goes another "Marlene Gush" about one of her own.)

You've seen posts about some of my grandchildren and today it's about the oldest, Christopher, but he only answers to that when I say it. To everyone else he is CJ. The typical 13 year old boy, struggling with the usual adolescent changes in life (school work, girls, hobbies, girls, rebelling about household chores, girls, his changing body image, girls),

but one thing is foremost on his mind ~ Football.

The Grandpa stretch

At 5'11" and a build to match, his coaches don't struggle that much with him, and nominated him for the Shriner's All-Star Team after the first week of the season. It is a game that will play in late November between nominees from the 8th grade Central Florida teams and one from California, for the benefit of the Shiner's Hospital organization. Needless to say, he is so excited (and so is Grandpa)!

ADDENDUM: A week after I posted this, CJ was nominated for tryouts for the American Youth Football 8th Grade Team and was selected as the only member of his team to the Southeast Region AYF all star team. Games will be played during the National championship week 12/2/2013.

The next step for him will be trying out for the Freshman High School Team in April, then onward to his dream for College ball and who knows afterwards. To that end, doting grandma had to get in on the encouragement, and connected with a terrific training coach to give him help. He is a sweet and kind guy who is really down to earth. Interested? You can go to his site where he offers Internet sessions.

Focus On Life - Week 40 - Give Us A Smile

OK, "Give Us A Smile" says Sally for this week.
By now you know I prefer my family's smiles to mine, so I give you a video on YouTube, that I can't take credit for making.

WARNING: The opening is LOUD!

But I can take credit for the handsome (prejudiced) guy, with the great smile, in it. That's my baby boy in the red jacket!
Focus On Life - Week 38 - A Quiet Moment

The prompt from Sally Russick this week is a quiet moment. Having the luxury of a stream running past my backyard gives me opportunity to have many such moments, to reflect. Whether it be a rainy day, or calm, morning or evening, watching the water flow seems to wash away so much from the mind.

But even more so than a natural stream, water leads to so much more quiet time for me. The clean fresh feel of the shower that prepares us for the day to come, or especially a nice hot soak in the tub at nighttime, to relax all, both physical and mental, aches and pains away.

Focus On Life - Week 37 - In Motion

If you are wondering why I was feeling so romantic last week, all I can say is guess it was a prelude to this Saturday. Although Sally asked us to focus on motion, I have not taken any photo's for this weeks prompt. These are, however, my most treasured photos. They are the start of a lifetime of motion.

45 years ago, today

Our wedding song, the most beautiful motion in my life.

Focus On Life - Week 36 - In Two

I am taking a bit of liberty with Sally's prompt for this week ~ "There are pairs everywhere in our life!" I was sitting in my craft room, surrounded by so many "twos", pairs of earrings, fantastic gemstones and beads both natural and handmade, trying to decide what I would use. Nothing seemed right, until I turned and looked over at the poster on my wall that I was given several years ago.

My family knows full well what a Disney crazy I am (You may remember my post about the Disney door pins I did a while back). For Christmas one year, my daughter-in-law gave me a wonderful poster titled The Disney Kiss.

In Two, does not have to mean two identical things, just perfectly together. And when it comes to movie magic, who has given us more perfect pairs?
Focus On Life - Week 35 - Growth and Change
Fresh new buds for the promise of things to come ~

Starting with a flower ~

~ New growth begins

OK, missed last week all together, because I didn't see the prompt until others posted and since that was Tax Free Back to School Days, I was otherwise occupied. Can you say shopping, shopping and more shopping?

Now, as for this week's prompt ~ From Where I Stand. There are very few times I can actually stand where these pictures were taken. These two, Princess and Pepper, have pretty much taken up permanent residence couch side, and ALWAYS when I am wanting to get up. Do you have any idea how long it has taken me to make them realize they HAVE TO MOVE, when I want them to do just that?

The day Princess arrived
Pepper is hubbies royalty

Princess is a Cocker Spaniel that my middle son gifted to me as a birthday present several years ago. He knew it was my favorite breed of dog. Although I was ready to name her Lady (a la "Lady and the Tramp"), my grandson called the day after she arrived, wanting to know how "the princess" was doing, and that was that.

Pepper is a rescue Labradoodle we (or I should say, my hubby) fell in love with at first sight, when we visited the SPCA last year. She fell in love with him too, and follows him EVERYWHERE. He can not get up from his recliner without her shadowing him, and since she is all black, except for a white streak on her chest, shadow is the perfect definition.

They are both such a pleasure to have as part of our family, we don't even mind their yapping at the squirrels, frogs, geckos, butterflies, or ants in the back yard, when they are on the screened in porch, or when they look up at us like we are staving them, instead of giving them a scrap of what we are eating.

Focus On Life - Week 30 - Catch the Sun

When I saw Sally's prompt for this week, it made me smile. I focused on rain last week, so what better subject to focus on this week!

The Sun ~ That wondrous light that gives life to so much around us, like these delicate day lilies that are here today and gone tomorrow;

That helps to grow all the delicious foods of the earth for us to savor;

The day light that allows those we love to romp and play to their hearts content, and warms the waters of the local pool to just the right temperature for shared making of memories.
A few weeks ago, I was out hunting down shots for the monochrome prompt, and headed home once I had gotten what I wanted with my "fairly new" camera. As I was driving, I noticed these gorgeous rays from the sun filtering down through the clouds. I grabbed for my camera on the seat next to me, and one handed (other one still on the wheel) snapped a fast shot,
I didn't crop out the car in front of me, just to prove what I am saying. Glad there was no police car hanging around, can you imagine? If texting and driving is a problem, what would he have written me up for with a camera in my hand?
I wasn't sure I had captured the delicate rays, until I uploaded the picture and was awe struck all over again.

The photo just speaks for itself, and I really take no credit, other than being in the right place, at the right time.

Yes, that glorious ball of light we call Our Sun!

Focus On Life - Week 29 - Routine

So this week we get to talk about routines. I don't actually have one, as I play it by ear most days. Or I should say by telephone. So when the kids call for babysitting chores, I am usually ready.

HOWEVER, the one thing that you can consider pretty routine here in Florida, during the "wet season" (which can be anytime between May and November) is rain. No, not the kind of dreary, drizzly days we were use to in NJ, and not the endless hours of constant pitter-pat on the windows.

DOWNPOURS! Downpours that come on suddenly and are accompanied by streaks of lightning and thunder claps (Florida is considered the lightning capital of the world). The weathermen say it is due to the clash of the sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean to the East and the Gulf of Mexico to the West.

BUT, the one thing I have come to realize is, if you are not happy with the weather here, just wait 10 or 15 minutes and it will change. Witness the pictures that I went back and took as soon as I downloaded this first batch.
To prove my point, 30 minutes later, after the sun came out, it was pouring again.

At a recent craft fair I could not resist purchasing this lawn ornament. Very appropriate, wouldn't you say?
Their names are Sally, Sammy, and Samantha

Focus On Life - Week 28 - Patterns

July is a super busy month for me, 4 birthdays and babysitting for kids out of school while moms and dads work, so apologizing for missing last week, and being late in getting this one done.

Vincent Van Gogh
(Still Life with Ginger Jar and Onions - September 1885)

The patterns of oriental porcelain work have always fascinated me. I am not the only one. Van Gogh did several paintings including them, and we know he is a master of patterns in his paintings.

The gold accents
in addition to the hand painting

The detail in the work whether it be from the Ming (1368 to 1644 AD) period or the Qing (1644 to 1912 AD) period, leaves me in awe of the craftsmanship of it. Even to this day, doing the work to produce representations is truly an art of immense concentration and dedication.

Even a simple onion bulb has to be embellished

Can you count the number of colors in just the
one small area of this piece?
I don't presume to have the money or opportunity to own any of it, or anything even close to antiquities, but I have collected a few pieces in my life.

Focus On Life - Week 26 - ?

I mentioned in my first post for this series that family is the most important thing to me. Over the weeks, I have seen how so many of you agree with me. So when Sally gave us free reign to write about whatever we are focusing on this week, my inspiration is:

This is our oldest son, Frank, who just celebrated his 44th birthday this week (amazing, seeing as I am only 39).

He has given us so much pride and joy, especially these two gorgeous girls


He started out his career in a store selling computers, kept on learning and expanding his knowledge of them and the networking involved in keeping everyone connected to where he is today, Director of Corporate Infrastructure for a global video game company.

I don't even understand what that involves, but know he has become a globe trotting business man.

But he has given us some hair pulling moments as well.

Finding out he put his youngest brother in an over sized pillow case and swung him around the room.
Driving his lifted truck into the pond in front of his high school, on purpose.
Skinny dipping outside a pool store on a highway near us the night of graduation.
Mailing wet asparagus to a friend away at college.
And after taking lessons at a racing school in Loudon, NH, this:

His latest love is photography (wonder where he gets it from), in hopes of one day opening his own photography studio. He has given me permission (after I told him I was doing it anyway) to share some of his work with you. This is his website:


Focus On Life - Week 25 - You Are...

I really don't like talking about myself, because I don't see myself as that interesting, so this was a real challenge, but then isn't that what Sally is doing to us all in this series of prompts?

All due to The Almighty's good graces:
I am a woman who is
first a wife, 
These rings will be 45 years old in September.
and a grandmother,

My shirt says. "I Spoil My Grandkids, Because I Can"
but also, a retired RN,
a consummate DIYer,

From my candle making days

currently a jewelry designer,

My most recent booth display
a polymer clay artist,

One of 250 peacock votives done for a convention,
and a floral garden composition for a Garden Show prize.

and consider myself, a friend to many.

Focus On Life - Week 24 - Green

GREEN! My absolute favorite color. Ask my middle son. I sent him off to college with green sheets and comforter, as well as dishes and cutlery with green handles! Sally did say it was the color of learning, right?
I started on this one on Monday and have been going strong all week. So instead of babbling on and on, I'll just let you see:

An old pic of my favorite car of the many we have had.

A pic from last year, but......

Florida sun and rain help.

These plants started out life as tiny sprigs all in one rectangular planter I got as a "get well" gift, several years ago. Guess my "green thumb" is working OK.

I've talked about my orchids before but just wanted to share one I received from my daughter for Mother's Day last year. It is blooming right now and has such a fantastic aroma. 

It's common name is "Coconut Orchid",
and yes, that is what it smells like.

Also have mentioned the orange and lemon trees I have, but my hubby also loves planting trees in our yard.

His dwarf fig tree, with lots of his favorite fruit!

His pathetic little banana trees.
Guess we will be buying at Publix for quite a while.

My favorite Summer fruit as a kid, AND still is!

OH, and one last "green" picture!

There's so much green around me, guess this little guy just wanted in too!

Focus On Life - Week 23 - Typography

OK, still not getting around too well, but this week's prompt had me thinking about how Typography can have an influence on your life. Since I have pretty much become a couch potato waiting for my leg to get back to normal, I have become an expert on this one. Hold on 'cause this might not be pretty!

A while ago, during the last Holiday Season, my hubby and I were watching a late night news program which then went to a "brief" commercial break. We then proceeded to watch 7 ads in a row for automobiles (everything from a Kia to a Lexus, with a Jeep and an F-150 Truck in between). Almost understandable, considering the precarious market in the industry lately, but now I have a new pet peeve.

The Bombardment of this one:

I know upgraded cell phones are all the rage lately, and these companies, among others, have become experts at bombarding us with all the "wonderful" things we can't live without. 3G, 4G, 5G (How long will it take to get to 27G?). Phones that can text, access innumerable apps for innumerable sites. Phones that correct your spelling when you do text (with some pretty funny results). Phones that can turn on appliances at home. Phones that can transfer photos by touch. Phones that can take pictures and then photo edit them. Phones that can answer a call by waving your hand over them (Is that so they can delete the call button to save room on the phone face?)

Call me old, or at least old fashioned but isn't a phone for talking to people? It is for me, and my hubby and I have ones that do just that.

Can't wait for the day I get ONE MORE of those telemarketing calls (which are supposed to be blocked) and the sales person tells me to text for more information, so I can politely tell him I don't have texting on my phone and hang up!

Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop at: The Studio Sublime.

Focus On Life - Week 22 - Foodie

I have been missing in action the last few weeks, due to my leg not cooperating, and allowing me to get around much, but making progress, and hoping to be more diligent in the future. The weekly prompts of 20 ~ Looking Up had me looking up at the ceiling in my hospital room, so 'nuff said, and 21 ~ Reminisce is pretty much covered by this post as well. This week's prompt - Foodie, is right up my alley. The photos are not new or recent, but I did take them all.

When you have 5 kids and 9 grandchildren, and a holiday is coming around, you can be guaranteed the comment most heard at my house is "Mom, you always make too much!" OK, I admit it. I do. I could say its all because of my younger years, remembering back to my aunt's cellar at Thanksgiving, when the tables stretched the entire length of the room, and my uncle was cooking right up to the time the entire family of sisters, brothers, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins were all present and ready for a feast of his making.
You could blame it on my being Italian (well, more Italian than Irish or German). You could blame it on my wanting to make sure there is at least one thing on the table that everyone will eat (including the "fussy eaters"). You could say I just can't get out of the habit of cooking large, because of having to do it that way as my brood was growing, and usually had a friend or two over at meal time. You could say it is due to compensation for the times in my young life, with money always being tight, that supper consisted at times of Campbell's Tomato Soup, with a slice of American cheese floating in it.

All valid reason's but not the whole truth.

I have always loved to eat.

Even to this day I will get a craving for something, and hunt it down, as if I were pregnant (Oh Lord, not possible, but no thank you). Conversely I have always loved to cook.

Once my hubby became disabled and I got turned into the "bread winner", this man who only knew how to put hot dogs in a pot and boil them, slowly took on that chef's role. He learned well. He can make shrimp scampi better now than I ever could.

But holidays are still mine, and the best part is, he gets the next week off kitchen duty as we finish off those left overs!

One dessert is NEVER an option!
Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop at: The Studio Sublime.

Focus On Life - Week 19 - Hope

Hope of a Blessed Mother.

Please excuse the quality of this picture. It is a copy of a snapshot I took many years ago, of my mother and youngest son standing out side a church after some function. Seems like a safe place, but even there, my mother had to keep a loving hand on my son's to protect and keep him safe. That was the kind of woman she was.

We lost her to pancreatic cancer 22 years ago. To this day, my younger daugher, who is now in her 30's, takes solace in the fact the the last thing she ate was the jello she made "especially for Grandma."

The song Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler has this line in it. "You always walked a step behind." It makes me think of her. Not because she was so much shorter than my fast walking dad (although that was true), or because her less than perfect health keep her somewhat frail all her life, but because that was her. She always stepped back and let my brother and me shine, in school, in other activities, in life, and was content to watch it happen.

She only had two granddaughters, who worshipped the ground she walked on, but I am blessed to have the five I have mentioned before.

My most fervent Hope is that some day they will think of me in the same loving way. I know she is keeping an eye on me, and pushing me to do it right, because I also know she has her wings, and can only hope that I will get mine too, because of her.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you, and Happy Mother's Day to you all!

Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop at:
The Studio Sublime.

Cori said...
This definitely brought tears to my eyes. I miss her so much, everyone knows how close I was with her. She was grandma. I worshiped her and never wanted to leave her side. I love her more then words can express. But I have grown to realize that the love I have for her although bigger then the world itself doesn't compare to the love I have for my mom. You are the wind beneath my wings and I know Caitlyn loves you just as much as I loved Grandma. You will be part of her for the rest of her life. You have followed in your moms footsteps and always let me shine. I can't thank you enough for all that you do for me. I have had two tremendously wonderful women in my life and the shoes I have to fill will not be easy. I love you grandma! I adore you mom! Happy Mothers Day!!

Focus On Life - Week 18 - Abstract

I missed last week's prompt all together, because I made a trip up to NJ for my grandson's First Holy Communion, which was wonderful. While I was there, I had to pick him up from school, and saw the most amazing Japanese Cherry Blossom tree in front of the school.

There wasn't an inch anywhere on the tree not covered with bouquets of deep pink blooms. No camera with me (kicking self) except for cell phone, but even it couldn't take a bad picture.

Once back home, I uploaded the pictures to my computer and then went after them with Photoshop for the prompt for this week ~ Abstract.
This looks like a great background for scrap booking paper

A spiral filter accenting the deepest pink flowers

One branch in a ripple blur pattern

After having so much fun with the photos above, I went on a hunt around the house and found the perfect item for a self made abstract. My son had given me this tea light candle holder, which has a mirror on the back, so that when the candles are lit, they reflect to infinity.

To infinity
soldiers in a row

I set the camera on manual with no flash and took these pictures that way, the second of which was purposely taken out of focus.

This was such a fun prompt for me, from Sally, this week.
Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did putting it together.

Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop at: The Studio Sublime.

Focus On Life - Week 16 - Go for a Walk

Late posting again! Super busy with Blog Hop I am partnered in this past week, and a fundraiser still in the working stages. I do so love these posts, hope you forgive me my tardiness.

As for this week's prompt. Go for a Walk, it is probably the biggest reason I don't have much to say. After nursing for 42 years, and walking hard concrete floors for that amount of time, my feet, knees and hips won't allow much walking. Went to my grandson's football game this morning, and almost couldn't make it to the visitor side of the stadium.

Believe me when I say this is a picture of the last of many, many, many whites I have worn out, and this pair is still in my closet, because since I retired, I use them for messy yard work, and because they are still the most comfortable for my feet.



Focus On Life - Week 15 - Aged Beauty
Sally's prompt got me to remembering the years when things were tight, and Santa was due shortly. I found these cute, and inexpensive, police and fire truck toys that made sounds, had blinking lights, and moving parts, for my then 3 and 1 year old grandsons. The toys ran on batteries, and the police car has long since bit the dust, but the fire truck is still going strong, and I think I have only changed the battery once. Duracell you rock!

OK, so it is not that old, and may not have aged as gracefully as other antiques (witness the cracked windshield, and the missing walkie-talkie mike),

and the now 13 and 11 year olds no longer play with it. To this day the rest of my seven grandchildren who are near me in Florida have though, each in turn as they found it in the "Grandma Box".

Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder. The Beauty of seeing them get such a kick out of it, even if they leave it running, and go off to something else, is what warms a Grandmother's heart.

Focus On Life - Week 14 - Up Close!

OK, late again. I loved this weeks challenge, when Sally sent it last Saturday, because, like her, I love playing with my macro settings, even though I am still learning the ins and outs of my new camera, but I let time get away from me, again.

In thinking about the topic, of course, the first thing that came to mind was flowers, but then I got to thinking about what really makes me feel closest to in my life. We lived for 30 years in our home in Lodi, NJ, raised our five children there, and made many changes to it.

It was remodeled several times, so much so that when we bought it, it was listed as a Cape Cod, but when we sold it to move to Florida, it was listed as a Central Hall Colonial. The one thing I had always wanted in it was a fireplace, and one of the renovations included a custom built fireplace in the family room.

So naturally when I went "house shopping" here in Florida, one of the musts was a fireplace. This photo is a close up of the awesome Florida Sandstones that make up the entire wall where our fireplace is now.
Of course a house can be as beautiful as any designer can make it, but a home is what makes it beautiful in our eyes. I was fortunate to find one that the previous owner obviously had pride in, witness the welcome sign on the front door, which remains there,

and the wonderful Sago Palms and Day Lilies that still grace the front yard.

But perhaps the one thing that makes this house so comfortable is the backyard, which
because we are very close to a State Park, and the stream behind that flows from the park, we get some of the most delightful visitors to our home.

These last two pictures are not macro, but were done with a zoom lens, as close as I dared to get.

Focus On Life - Week 13 - Have Faith

Sorry I have been remiss on posting last week, and almost again this week. We have a condo in the town one over from us, that our kids, and their families, have been living in, one at a time of course ~ its not THAT BIG. Since they are all "on their own" now, and after 14 years of them being there, it needed a MAJOR renovation job, and most of which we did on our own. I had faith that we would get it done, before our first "real renter" would be in it, which is Monday, but I digress.

With Easter tomorrow, the most important holiday of the Catholic calendar, I had to post.
This is another shot of the steeple of my church, from the Monochrome Focus post, un-Photshoped.

When ever I drive past and look up, it is like seeing a heart and soul warming friend. Kind of like, after a long day, pulling into your driveway and knowing that door will soon be opened.

The best part of having something so meaningful in my life, which has sustained my Faith time and time again is knowing that Faith is being passed along to the generations after me.

My grandson, Justin, is making his First Holy Communion next month, and I am so proud that my Faith has been the greatest gift to him from his mom. Have a Blessed day.


Focus On Life - Week 11 - The Possibilities are Endless

My dear friend, and appointed sister, Shelley Graham Turner of Fabric of My Life with Tori Sophia has started an all out fundraising effort for Alzheimer's Research. It is very close to her heart, since she just lost her beautiful older sister to the ravages of it.
Now if you know Shelley at all, you know she has the biggest heart in the world, and when she tasks herself with something, there is no end to her efforts, The Possibilities are Endless.

To start with she is making earrings to pass out to the walkers in the Annual Walk for Alzheimer's in Virginia Beach, and has enlisted quite a few helpers to get them made. Here are a couple of the items I have for her.

Then she started a Facebook page, Jilly's Bead Posse, to share their beautiful creations with others and keep in contact with all of them.

Next stop on the bullet train, is to organize a sale of purple jewelry (purple is the official color of the Alzheimer's Organization) and she is doing it by putting special items up on her Etsy Shop Tori Sophia, 100% of the proceeds of these items will go to the organization. This is one of mine that will be available for sale on her site.
She also has plans, since becoming a member of her local Alzheimer's group, and being made a team leader, to get pledges from virtual friends to increase her donation, and organize a Charity event, in her old home town, involving other vendors to assist in raising money. As I said, when it comes to Shelley, The Possibilities are Endless, and I can only wish her the best in it.

Focus On Life - Week 10 - All Wrapped Up

I am late posting this week, because I have been all wrapped up in the subject for it. My beautiful Granddaughter Jadyn turned 6 yesterday. How time flies! It seems like only yesterday that mom and dad brought this sweet bundle home for the first time.

She is a love and a smarty at that. This is a picture of her I have posted previously for her graduation from PRE-SCHOOL! She looks so studious in it, and that she is. Her kindergarten teacher is planning on having her tested for the Gifted Program at school, since she is way ahead of her class and can read already. OK, enough Gramma Bragging.

Well, yesterday was "Have Lunch with Grandma" at her school, and you can be sure I was there, along with mom. It brings back memories of cupcakes for schoolmates on birthday's, and with 5 kids, for me that was A LOT of cupcakes.

But today is her party, and time for the presents. My son and daughter-in-law recently moved from a 2 bedroom apartment to a house with 3 bedrooms and a huge sun room. So Grandma has decided it is time for Jadyn to have her own dollhouse, which I still have to get wrapped before the party. I have a feeling Charlie, my son, isn't going to be too happy with me, but I did buy him the wood glue.

Focus on Life - Week 9 - Knock, Knock

Knock, Knock, open that door and step through is Sally's challenge this week. It got me thinking about the doors I have made the choice to go through.

Back in 1998, my husband and I were trying to decide where to retire. He opted for Florida, I wanted Arizona (The idea of hurricanes scared the you know what out of me.), but then realized where would it be more likely for the kids, and their kids to come for a visit. To the desert, or somewhere near Walt Disney World. So Mickey won! Actually not a hard choice, have been a fan of Disney for so long, my old email is CrazE4WDW.

Once here I got bitten by the Disney Pin collecting craze that was going on at the time. My collection now takes up ALL of one closet in my house. One of my favorites was a series of "Door" pins and want to show you one of them now.

For all the kitty lovers, this is one of the only one I have in my house, coming through his "dressing room door". Of course Lucifer is not from Alice in Wonderland (One of the all time great movies from Disney.), but with the closet as full as it is, I could not find my Cheshire Cat.


In the movie Alice falls through a door into a magical land where she winds up invited to a Very Merry Unbirthday Party, by the March Hare, and the Mad Hatter. My partner, Shelley Graham Turner and I are having one just starting today, as part of our Holiday Bling Blog Hop (HBBH) series.

If you would like more info, or think you'd like to join, click on the link beneath the party, to read all about it.

Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop at: The Studio Sublime


Focus On Life - Week 8 - Monochromatic

For this weeks challenge Sally wrote: "Look deeper through the lens to the story your photo captures and then process it in one color! Or be daring and shoot in B&W."

The title of my photo this week is: "In God we trust". I don't mean to offend anyone, but I honestly think the majority of Americans still believe this. I know I do.

This is the church I belong to in Altamonte Springs, FL. It is big and has a huge congregation. I wonder how many of them have heard or said these words lately:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"

How about you?

Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop at: The Studio Sublime

I certainly don't expect any of our wonderful International contributers to try for American citizenship, but do so appreciate your comments!

  Focus On Life - Week 7 - Beauty of Flowers My first thought after Sally gave us our phrase for this week, was to go for a drive from my house to my daughter's, one town away. All along the roads are beautiful displays of flowers set out so precisely and colorfully by professional gardeners in the road dividers. I often wonder how many people rushing to where they are headed even take the time to notice their beauty.
After considering the hazard of stopping to take all those glorious photos, I opted to stay alive, or at least not get my car rear-ended, and stayed home. So glad I did! Last week I shared the love affair I have with my orchids, but you know what, there are plenty of other flowers right in my yard, that easily match up to the beauty of those orchids, in their own way. I am fortunate to live in a place that even the middle of winter can't keep them from blooming like its the first day of spring.
These are all blooming in my yard this week!

Each, whether small and delicate or bright and bursting with color, enhances the world with its presence.
The flowers and buds are on the trees in my yard
These last two, however are the most precious of all though, not only because they are the most fragrant for the few days they are around, but the fore-shadowing of a bountiful harvest of Naval oranges and Meyer lemons. My entire family enjoys them throughout fall and into the next winter. I even put the fresh slices of the orange in my Thanksgiving turkey for that little extra tang. And the lemons? Well, fresh squeezed lemonade, of course! Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop: The Studio Sublime.  

Focus On Life - Week 6 - Feel the Love I have to say roses are the most beautiful creation Mother Nature ever designed. I have a personal connection to them. Besides it being my middle name, it was also my beloved mother's. When we lived in NJ I had several rose bushes that gave me fragrant and wondrous flowers to enjoy every year. Unfortunately once we moved to central Florida, I couldn't say the same. I tried many times and with many different varieties, but never was able to get the same results. Then a visit to a nearby flower grower's warehouse with my daughter, several years ago, started my new love affair.
Cattleya and Dendrobium Orchids

Orchids are so different, exotic, and fascinating, I was hooked. Especially since Florida has such an amenable climate for them. My purchase of one, lead to another and before you knew it, I had a whole orchid garden on my patio. I joined the local Orchid Society, and even won a couple of Best of Show ribbons for some of them.

Then I became involved in other things, (blogging, for example) and the feeding, watering, and re-potting of my dear sweet orchids became some what neglected. In spite of all this, however, they continue to show me their love each season of the year with blooms as magnificent as the first.

I took this picture just this week in my backyard, and as you can see they are filling my world by Feeling the Love from Mother Nature.

BTW, this area of Florida is known as the Fern Capitol of the US, and it can be verified, as those beautiful ferns in the background grow wild all over my yard

Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop: The Studio Sublime.

Focus On Life - Week 5 - Capture Our Hearts

Our dear Sally said to think outside the box this week, and see all the hearts around us. But for me I don't have to go very far from this monitor screen! This is the wallpaper I put together for my computer, and I see all who are most dear to my heart, every time I push the on button!

The oval picture are my five grown children, taken on the one on the lefts wedding day. Those grins on their faces are either because they are mumbling about mom and her camera AGAIN, or they are goosing each other. I tend to believe the latter, since they have always enjoyed teasing each other endlessly. Each of the smaller pictures are their children, from some time ago, but my wonderful reason for grabbing that camera when ever I am with them.

INTRODUCTIONS you say? Here goes:

ABIGAIL (Abi) is (the groom) TOMMY'S stepdaughter, who has been in his life since she was a baby. She won my heart, one day while at my house and playing with the others. She heard them call me Grandma, so she followed right along. After all, that IS my name.

Under her are RILEY and OLIVIA, (the fellow in front) FRANKIE'S beautiful daughters. Riley has a learning disability, but she is so courageous and determined to rise above it. Olivia, on the other hand, came home with a fat lip from day care, and when dad asked about it, she said she had a fight with a boy who tried to take what she had in her hand. "But, I won!"

JUSTIN, the boy peaking out from the pillow is (my oldest daughter, the tall lady in the back who hates that she is 6 ft tall) VALERIE'S son. He will be mayor, congressman, or president some day. No politician can make you see their position any better than him, and you won't get him to change his mind either.

JADYN and JOEY are the two on the bed starring at each other. They are (the tall guy - 6'4", in the back, my youngest son, my baby?) CHARLIE'S children. She idolizes her bigger brother, but he is at that "OK, but does she have to follow me everywhere" age now. Did you have a security blanket when you were small? He has a security pillow, and still brings it with him, when he comes to Grandma for a sleepover.

CHRISTOPER (he prefers C.J. now that he is a teenager), CODY and CAITLYN are (my youngest daughter, the one in front) CORI'S children. Again the "She's following me everywhere" comments from the two boys. Guess it is a universal thing, but I don't remember my brother saying it. Or maybe I just don't want too!

So there you have all the    
So now you have all who capture my heart, in my life. And they will have mine 'til the day I am no more!
Now please take some time to visit the others in this weekly blog hop: The Studio Sublime.

Focus On Life - Week 4 - Create Art

The phrase for this week is "Create Art". I know I can do this one with my eyes closed, or believe that I can. Have been creating polymer clay art beads for some time, and some friends have told me that is where my talent lies. I prefer to use my beads to complete a piece of jewelry with a design I envision in my head, but it doesn't always work out right. It is a shame that I am the only one this happens to, right?

Let me tell you a story. Lately I have not been doing jewelry, just concentrating on the beads themselves. I was contacted recently to join in a project to send beads to a very sweet, kind, and generous lady. Can't say anything more about this, because she doesn't know about it, but will soon.

Another friend asked me to work on a peacock feather cane for her. Happily I agreed, because I had done tons before. Sat down to create, and shucks, I couldn't remember the "recipe". Yes, I know you are yelling at me, "WRITE THEM DOWN!" Well I didn't and probably won't in the future.

Cut and shaped, baked on a bead rack, then sanded and buffed smooth.
The cane came out miserably, and I was so frustrated I just smooshed (a polymer clay term) the clay all together and I started to see a pattern I liked. This is the amazing thing about polymer clay. It reinvents itself. When a glass worker has a slip up, it goes in the trash, and probably the same with metal and ceramic artists as well. Not so polymer clay. Stop chuckling you beaders out there. Tell me none of you have ever gotten all the way to the last crimp, and the beading wire develops a mind of its own, and you spend the rest of the day picking beads up from all over the floor. .

I squared up the pile of clay, reduced it down to a long rectangle, sliced it into two equal pieces at a time, and turned them into matching Natasha beads. They have a kind of India looking design to them and am hoping my success out of initial frustration are liked by that sweet lady who is going to get them.


Focus On Life - Week 3 - Take Time

Once upon a Time; Time after Time; Take Time.
Time is a word that is used so often and represents so much in our lives. As much as I hate to admit it, we measure so much by it. As a nurse I had to wear a watch and use it to carefully monitor all of what I had to do each day, whether at work or home with my family. Now that I have retired and the family is grown and out on their own, I find I have the time to Take Time.

I have always been fascinated with photography, since the days I was my yearbook editor, and the publisher lent me a camera to take possible "proofs" for inclusion in it. My future husband was a picture taking crazy (I still won't admit I can't see the bird in the picture he took over his garage), so once we were married, we spent the day in camera shops in NYC finding just the right camera and telephoto lens to document our lives. About 25 carousels of 35mm slides (remember them?) later, and so many births, birthdays, vacations, graduations and holidays, I gravitated to point and shoot, tired of my loved ones grumping about waiting for me to get the right focus, composition, etc, and "Take the picture already!"

This past Christmas, they made up for all that complaining and chipped in to get me a Nikkon DSLR camera. So now it is my time to take TIME for ME. I have to dust off my brain, and relearn many of the lessons that publisher gave me so many years ago, and with the help of a great reference book from National Geographic, and the fantastic photo editing program that came along with the camera, I am doing just that.
Hopefully you (and I) will see marked progress as the year goes by!
Focus On Life - Week 2 - My Word: Simplify

What is simple about this photo? It is not, but it is an example of why my word for the new year is SIMPLIFY!
Have you ever heard George Carlin's comedy routine about "Stuff"? Basically he talks about how we all want stuff, and when we have too much, we move to a bigger place, so we can get more stuff.
Now I am not saying I am a pack-rat, however, every closet in my house is full of that "stuff" from who knows when.
This basket of yarn is a perfect example. It isn't just balls of unravelled yarn (my granddaughters' handy work), there is a half knit blanket in there somewhere. Just don't ask me for whom or when I started it. And the waiting baby yarn? Good question since the youngest is 4 years old! I won't even tell you how many granny squares still have to be made to finish her father's blanket.
So this year, my life, and my home will be simplified, one closet at a time, either via charitable contributions, the biggest garage sale ever, or a dumpster in the driveway. OH NO! Did you just hear the word garage? Don't even go there. Zombies, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team could be hiding in there and you'd never know it!
OK Marlene, calm down, you can do this. One closet at a time!

Focus On Life - Week 1 - Self Portrait

Sally from The Studio Sublime has started a year long adventure into photography, one picture a week with each one having a theme. So far over fifty brave individuals have signed up, and I am happy to say I am one of them. If you are interested in joining us as we share all year, you can find all the details by clicking on this link - Focusing On Life.
I must admit I cheated with the photo of my self, and submitted one my oldest son took of me while attending my middle son's wedding. You can tell it was a happy day, but he still surprised me by snapping it as I turned to tell him to quiet down. He is a much better photographer than this, the re-sized photo is out of focus (but then again, it kind of hides all the wrinkles!)

But I did take lots of pictures myself that day, as I do anytime I am with my 5 grown children and the 9 wonderful grandchildren they have blessed me with. I have a feeling many of the photos here for the next year will either be of them, or revolve around their lives. I have no idea why blogger is not bringing up the correct link for me to up load pictures, but as soon as they get their act together I will update this post.

Here are a few examples of pictures I have previously posted:

Grandsons, CJ, Justin, Joey and Cody

Abigail and Justin

Youngest son, Charles, wife Dawn, and Jadyn and Joey 

Thanks Sally for a great challenge for the New Year!

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