Friday, May 10, 2019

Life Update and Chalk Couture kit unboxing

Hello Friends,

Since last we spoke, I have continued to persevere, returning to work, and taking care of Mom and Keith. I have had my 52nd birthday, and I made it through without too many tears.  I have ridden a horse, had lunch with friends and family, and had many busy work days. 

I also have been taking Zumba classes, and lost 12 pounds..yay!!!   I have been trying to keep busy, so far I am succeeding.  I miss Dad every single day. I miss Bob every day. Its tough, but with a lot of help and encouragement, I am getting by.

I recently saw an old scrapbooking friend posted a class to attend and make a beautiful chalk board, with words and designs. I attended the class so I could make my Mother something for Mother's Day. I was hooked. It was  super easy, so I decided to join as a designer, and I made the kit my birthday gift.

Below is my shaky start video of the kit unboxing....


I hope you will follow me on my business page, https://www.facebook.com/laurelschalkcouture/?modal=admin_todo_tour and will join my VIP group for special sales: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2248735385172647/

I have always done well with stress management through creating Art. This is a super simple way to make a masterpiece. I am looking forward to making lots of things to sell at craft fairs, hosting workshops, and spending time meeting new people with similar interests.

Canadian Friends- This product is now available in Canada, I am sure the rest of the world is not far behind.

If I can help you with Chalk Couture in any way, please message me or drop me an e-mail.

Thanks for watching!

Hugs,
Laurel

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

55 years of marriage today.....

Today is April 24,2019.

My parents 55th wedding anniversary. 

Mom was lamenting that they didn't make 55 years by 43 days. I told her, "You get credit for time served. You made it. "

I was very worried about Mom today, but she stayed busy sewing, and I came home and cooked her a favorite meal- Coconut Shrimp. About 3/4 through the dinner, I said to Mom- "So, tell me about your wedding day..."

And she did. My parents eloped. Mom was in college at West Virginia University. Dad was still in the Navy, and a recruiter working out of Philadelphia.  They met in the Summer of 1962,or 1963- while Mom was working as a hostess in Atlantic City, NJ. 

Dad told me , once he saw her, he just knew.  He said she would change her hairstyle everyday.  He was transfixed on her.  The courted for a year, by telephone, having a conversation on Sundays.

Then they decided to elope. April 24, 1964 was the day, that they met at a cafe in Morgantown, West Virginia.  Mom was all decked out in a pale green suit, and wore her hair with bangs- for the first time ever. Mom had some wedding flowers. Dad ordered the Largest breakfast ever, and proceeded to take a full 30 minutes to eat it. Mom says she was soooo nervous.  Mom was 21 years old, and Dad was 33. Finally breakfast is over, and they get in the car, and drive to Maryland. 

They stopped in a little town,  and went to see the Clerk. This was the days when you could get a license and be married the same day. So, they did. Mom said the courthouse was a lovely brick building, and they had lots of weddings there. She also said the ceremony was really nice. Not the normal, but an actual little ceremony. 

After they were married, they drove to Cincinnati, Ohio to  supper club, where Leslie Uggams was performing. They had a great meal, and Dad had prearranged a wedding cake to come to the table, and all the servers sang. After, they went to the showroom, and watched Leslie sing.

Mom went back to WVU, and Dad went back to work in Philly, and living in Atlantic City. A month later , when school was over for the year, Dad came and picked up Mom, and moved her to NJ. 

I asked how Mom told her father she had married, and she said she wrote him a note. ( Can you believe it? ) and she moved to Atlantic City, NJ in with Dad and my Grandfather- Dad's father.
All was well. Everyone criticized their age difference- 12 years, my Mother's age- 21, and they all said it would never last. 

What they didn't know is... my Father was a romantic. and he always introduced Mom as his Bride, or My Patsy. Dad put Mom first ,always, and even though they had little in common, they had each other.

I once asked Dad- What's the secret to a long marriage? He said a few things:

1. You are either a team. or you are not- there is no in between.
2. Always say " I Love You" every day
3. " I give your Mother 30 minutes of my attention every day - whether she wants it or not."
4. My personal favorite- " Don't sweat the small stuff".
5. Being right is not as important as making your partner happy.


I told Mom- you outlasted all of them. 

Happy 55th Anniversary  Mom and Dad!   I love you to the moon and back.





Friday, April 12, 2019

It's been a month....

Today marks 30 days since Dad and Bob left us. 
How are we doing? 
Tough to say. Sometimes I am ok. I think I really laughed out loud at Keith last night for the first time and I didn't even feel guilty about it. Until today when I remembered that today marks a month without Dad and Bob, and I proceeded to ball my eyes out.

I asked Mom today if she felt we took good care of Dad?, and she replied, "yes, I have no regrets". She also said " I just wish we could have done more for Bob."Me too. Silly, hard headed fool.  If only, then I start up the "if only's" and drive myself crazy.

I guess, I am still heart broken.  I guess I always will be. I really hate the "new normal" that my life has become without them. Then I stop myself, and say to myself, Dad wouldn't approve of all this sadness, and crying. I'm sorry Pop, I just can't help it. I'm trying, please know that I'm trying, but I miss you.

You know that scene in Forrest Gump- the one where he is by the tree and gulps out - "I miss you Jenny"? well exchange Jenny for Dad, and sometimes Bob, and you get a sense of my condition.

 Mom and I had to go to her bank in Vineland, and we went to see Dad at the cemetery. It was the first time for Mom, and my 4th since the dreadful day.  I have to tell you, Mom is made of steel. I was so very proud of her, as I am everyday. To see her trudge through this rough time, it sounds strange but, she is inspiring. She does show her emotions, but it's the way she shows them, she is not the sloppy mess that I am, that's for sure. Just amazingly classy, and I see the love she has for Dad, pouring out of her. 

Mom just had her birthday, her 77th on April 9. She had a really good day, she said. I was of course worried to bits about her. Its hard to believe that Mom is now 77. The difference in my parents ages never showed until recently. Mom is amazing, and doing well. Far better than I am. 

Keith finally got the sit down MRI, and we are awaiting results. One step closer to a diagnosis, I pray non surgical solution. I think it's a load off his mind, to at least have been able to complete the test.  

I'm trying to catch up at work, that seems to be a never ending more and more piled upon to be accomplished. I'm distracted, and short tempered, and I have no good excuse. I'm being irritated by everything that is no one's fault. Nothing holds my attention for very long.  Today I was able to get through to the Navy, and get Mom's benefits on their way. I feel like I only get one victory per day, as I attempted to call Social Security too for her, and the wait time was 45 minutes. I had to bail. 

Once we returned home, I shuffled through dinner, made good on my promise to post pictures of the Car- Bob's Car for sale, and to go through my $5 jewelry and post 10 items.  Now I'm out of crap to do for the day, and that's when the sadness sets in. Especially today. 

So, I turn to this blog, to let it all out. 

I really can't believe it's been a month. I miss them so much. 

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

What about Bob?

I cannot believe it's almost been a month since Bob and Dad left us, and I have not had the strength to write anymore about either of them. I guess I am trying to work through my grief, in a hundred different ways. I truly have tried many things, but I am learning that the only true healer is time.

Just to give you a quick update, the outpouring of condolences from my friends, co workers and our new neighborhood, even down to the quickest text I have received, are all helping.  I started going to church, I am seeing a grief counselor, and I went back to work. I still have little patience, especially for bs, that I have deemed most things, unfortunately.  I am trying to pace myself, and allow for some time, and peace and patience to find me.  I am going to attempt to set some goals, as I seem to feel better when I am busy. First one is to start formally exercising, so a zumba class has my name on it this Monday night. Next goal, is to go and take a trail ride on horseback for my birthday next month. I am thinking about a lot of things, like going back to school, or getting back into my art, and trying to write on this blog more.  I think if I could get through one day without crying, it would be a start. All things in due time.

So, what about Bob? I thought I should tell you about him, since I was privileged to be a friend of his for about 25 plus years. I also have some things to work out, about his passing, and how I am dealing with it.
Robert H. Jones, Jr was a friend to Keith since they were about 13 years old. Ironically, Keith's Father actually dated Bob's Mother at one stage. It was the Seventies. The guys met during a snowball fight at Bob's Aunt's home , on Maple Ave in Linwood, NJ. Keith says he clobbered Bob with a snowball right in the chest, and from then on, they were peas and carrots.  The relationship between their parents never worked out, but a lifelong friendship blossomed.

The guys had a lot of similar interests, music, chess, books, video games, billiards, booze- on more than one occasion, and a language all their own, peppered with a scaling sense of humor that was shared, and a lot of laughter. I don't remember many disagreements, although I am certain there were some. Each took the typical "male" way of dealing with things, and never really talked about it with the other. I think in some ways that may have been a detriment to the other, but it's how they handled things.
I was fortunate that they accepted me as their third wheel and never made me feel like it. We all three are only children. We always said we were the siblings we never had. In Keith I got a husband, and in Bob I got a brother. As a matter of fact, Bob always called me "Sis". If I'm being honest, I used to think he said that when he was trying to butter me up. Now I think of it as a fond memory, and I am glad he thought of me that way.

Keith and I lived in Linwood, NJ for about 11 years together. Keith had lived there all his life, and Bob lived a short few blocks away. We had many happy days and evenings shooting pool, listening to music, talking until all hours, and most likely drinking too much.  Bob sure could wear out a subject of the latest love interest after he had a few drinks. We were happy, and we got to spend a lot of time together. Schedules were decent- all of us worked day shift for the most part , and I got to play hostess a lot, even if it was just a basic dinner. I really liked cooking for the guys, and if they liked it, it was even better. They were always gracious about my kitchen conquests, and I failed more than once. It was a happy time. We made our own little family, that we got to choose. 

Personally, I always worried about Bob's health, even back then. Bob had A-fib, a bad back due to 30 years of valet parking, and I would guess a lot of other  un-diagnosed issues.  After Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, I recall Bob's Mother Kathy, became ill. She had a hernia repair operation that never really healed. It turned into several infections, and mental issues. Bob became her caregiver, and he really tried to take care of her, and maintain a job, with very little financial support. In Bob's life, it had always been the two of them against the world. Bob's parents had divorced when he was young, and Bob had no relationship with his Father, that I ever heard him speak of.  Kathy and Bob also had their own language. one that sometimes, Bob did not understand.  Unfortunately, even through Bob's best efforts, Kathy died on March 11, 2015.  Bob never recovered from the loss of his Mother. He did have happy moments, and holidays, but truly, the Bob of old was gone. He was lost in grief that at times was all consuming. Shortly after Kathy passed away, the Sheriff came for her home, and Bob lost his job. It was a terrible year for him. I was dealing with Dad's diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure, and feverishly looking for a home for all of us. Bob came to live with Keith and I in mid summer 2015.  I found the house on Hartford Drive in October of that year, and we all moved in together.  

I recall that Christmas, we all took a breath. It had been arduous work combining three households for a month or more, and we all were looking forward to a nice holiday.  A nice holiday was enjoyed, and we all settled into life in the house. Dad's health improved, Bob started working at my hotel in Valet, Keith began working at Harbor Freight, and Mom was sewing away.  Things were looking up. Bob's schedule was overnights 12a-8a, so he slept during the day. 

There were a set of setbacks that occurred for Bob, but I do think the underlying cause for all of it was Bob's grief over his Mom's death.  Adding to the grief was , an opposite schedule, not a lot of sleep, and Bob found comfort in escaping from all of us, by retreating to his room, and most likely drinking more than he should have.  Bob used to drive his Mother's truck, and he never turned it over into his name. One day he was pulled over, something to do with the registration expired, and the truck was impounded. Bob did not have the funds to go get the truck out of impound, so he never dealt with it, and he began sharing Keith's car. We believed it would be short term, and it never really was.  We moved along, and as the holidays and anniversaries rolled by, Bob seemed to become more somber. I used to think he was working through the loss of his Mom, but now in hindsight, I don't ever think he accepted it. 

There were happy times, mostly when I demanded it. I am a big holiday person, and I wanted Bob to join in with the family on Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays, including his own. He sheepishly did so, but mostly because he did not want to disappoint me. Throughout this time, Bob had a few bouts of Afib, where I pleaded with him to go to a doctor, and I was always rebuffed. He also incurred horrible swelling in his leg, terrible back and hip pain, and the normal winter colds. Bob also fell due to disorientation a few times.   He wasn't healthy. He had lost weight, and was not eating well, even though it was offered. It was during this time that I now believe he amped up the drinking, all of which he did behind my back. 

In 2017, the owner of the Hartford house, approached me to purchase it. I tried , and tried but I could never get the numbers to work. It was a beautiful home, but much too expensive for me to carry long term. Once I realized it was not going to work out, I searched and found the home we now live in, much more affordable, and in a better, more welcoming neighborhood. I made settlement in October 2018, and we began moving once again. Bob, got a huge upgrade of accommodations with the move. He had a private stairwell to his large, apartment style room, with a private bath, and a great closet.  At this stage, he is still working at the Hotel,  Mom and Dad are doing well, Keith is working, and we all just wanted to relax and have a nice Thanksgiving. 

We did. There were boxes everywhere , but we did not care. We had a place that we owned. Everyone was doing ok.  Then Dad got sick with a UTI on 12/1/18, and landed in the hospital for a week. Bob seemed to have caught a cold, that brought a hacking cough with it. He coughed all day and all night. I felt terrible for him. I begged him to go to a doctor, and once again he declined. He never wanted to impose on anyone, and compromised his health because of his hard head.  I suppose, he thought it would pass. Dad was in the hospital until 12/7/18. We managed to get Dad home, and started up the home care. Because Bob worked overnights, he was available to help keep an eye on Dad for me while Keith and I worked.  I was so grateful for it. In hindsight, I wonder if I told him that enough. 

Christmas comes, Dad is doing better, Bob is a little better, still coughing, but he was really happy. He was so happy, he made a big point of telling me that it was the best Christmas he had enjoyed in years. 

Also in December, the engine in the car they were sharing, died. We made the decision to repair it with a new engine, and we also bought a jeep for Keith. Now we were a 3 car family. 

January came, and the Valet company at the hotel changed vendors. Bob unfortunately was not rolled into the new company. So, he became unemployed.  I needed more help with support as Keith began his back issue with excruciating pain down his leg, and shortly thereafter had a collapsed lung. Keith wound up having surgery in February, and is still dealing with the leg pain to this very day. Bob was a key person, in giving me the ability to go to the hospital, or rehab hospital with Keith , as he was watching Mom and Dad for me. By the way, he is still coughing, and he does not look good. I am pleading daily for him to see a doctor. Bob is giving me every excuse in the book, and I am becoming frustrated, and so is Keith. It is now February, and Keith has made it out of the hospital following his lung surgery, and completed Rehab and is doing very well considering the leg pain has not let up. I recall the first thing Keith said to Bob once he was home, was " When are we going to get you well?" Bob just gave another excuse, and basically heard the concern, but did not act on it.

While Keith was in the hospital, I would have a nightly chat with Bob to bring him up to date on Keith's progress or find out about Mom and Dad's status. We had the aides and nurses coming for Dad at this point, and Dad was doing ok.  Even as bad as Bob must have been feeling, he always showed great concern for Keith, and me and my parents. He reminded Mom daily about Dad's afternoon pills, and looked in on everyone. He even reminded me to be sure to take care of my health, which prompted me to make a doctor appointment for a physical. We had several talks throughout this time about Dementia, and the effect it was taking on Dad. Bob shared a lot of details about his care giving to his Mother, and was very encouraging to me. I valued these talks a lot, as Bob was not much of a talker usually, and he was fiercely private. He even spoke at length to my Mother, about his experiences, when she was struggling to understand all that was happening to Dad. I know that must have been hard for him, as our Mothers shared the same hobby of quilting. Bob gave Mom a few of his Mother's possessions for Christmas- a set of stacked Shaker style wooden boxes- that my Mother cherishes. I often thought it must have been hard for Bob, in his grief, to be around my Mom, as there were a lot of similarities between Kathy and her. He never showed it to me, if he felt it. 

I wish I could say, the story of my dear brother Bob Jones, has a great ending, but in the end, his stubbornness to take care of himself, or take anyone's advice to do so, got the best of him. Bob continued to cough until March 12, 2019 when he had a heart attack, and died in our home.  He was 55 years old. I feel the worst for Keith. You can say Bob made his choices, but to watch your friend of 40 years perish in front of you, has got to be traumatic.  Keith seems to be coping well, and so does Mom.  I have found solace in playing some of Bob's favorite music, and thinking about the happy times back in Linwood, when Bob was healthy, and happy. I remember if he turned up in his cowboy boots, with his pool cue in his hand, it was certain to be a good night. I prefer to remember his kind blue eyes, and quick wit, that made me laugh until I cried. 

I have been concerned, that in my overwhelming grief for my Dad, that somehow Bob would be lost in the sea of tears. After his service this past Wednesday evening, we had his repast back at our house, with his cousins and Aunt. It helped to hear the funny stories, and share the smiles of recalling happy times. Bobby, you will always be the brother I never had and always wanted. I miss you, and our chats. I miss reminding you to eat something, and I will always be grateful to you for the time you shared with me and my family, and your loyal friendship to Keith.

I hope you are at peace. I hope you are reunited with your Mom, and that you both are laughing at an inside joke. I miss you, and all your quirks that drove me nuts before. I am so glad that you were in my life, and you always will be.

Love,
Sis








Sunday, March 17, 2019

Life and loss....

It’s been such a long time since I have felt moved to write .So much has happened, it’s hard to put it in print. Being the daughter of a printer, I thought I should try.

Let me catch you up.

Since last we spoke, we bought a home, moved into it. I am still caregiver to Dad. Keith underwent some medical issues. Collapsed lung, had surgery, and a pinched nerve in his back that gives him unbearable nerve pain. He can’t really walk and we are still dealing with it.

Our longtime friend Robert Jones, has lived with us since 2012. I still work at the hotel. Mom is sewing and dreaming of her future gardens. Dad is ok, very happy to be with us, but having some aging problems- he is 88 years old.

Back in December of 2018 Dad got a UTI, and had a hospital stay. His blood pressure was bottoming out too. We got him through it, got rehabilitation therapists to come to the house, and he was doing pretty well. In January , Keith started feeling the back pain, and we began the pursuit of Doctor visits to find a solution.  In February, or towards the end of January rather, we decided to put Dad under hospice care, in order to have a daily aide come to help with bathing, and the relentless diaper changes. At this stage, Dad had started having a few dementia days, where he was fighting me caring for him. And frankly, I needed the help.
Meanwhile, Bob is coughing for months on end. And due to a transition at the hotel of a new valet company, he lost his job.  Bob wound up being the extra eyes I needed on my parents after the aides left, and Keith was hospitalized for a collapsed lung or leg pain.

Clearly, I have a ton going on at this stage, but surprisingly, it was all working well with time and attention , and everyone was getting the care they needed- except Bob. I pleaded with Bob daily to go to a doctor and there was always an excuse.

Then March 12 came, and my world was changed forever.

I was at work, when I received a text message that Bob had fallen, and the paramedics were called and it did not look good. I went to drive home, and when I arrived , Bob had died. Then within minutes of Bob passing, Dad left us peacefully in his sleep.

I had been preparing to lose Dad, he was 88 years old, but never would I have guessed that he would go that day. I can only think that he had to lead Bob up to heaven. Bob was 55.

This week has been surreal, shattering and heartbreaking in every sense of the word. I’m bereft, and emotional and trying to come to acceptance of my circumstances. We just buried Dad yesterday, and I am moved by the outpouring of love from our friends . I feel broken, cursed , grateful and honored to have had the best Dad in the world. 

I don’t want to forget the signs he sent me this week. So I thought I would write them and perhaps this may help me remember.

So I will list them while they are fresh in my mind and tell you about them, one by one.
1. The baby
2. The jacket
3. The flag
4. The hawk


The baby-

Dad always blew me a kiss as I was heading out to work, or up to bed. On Thursday, following our meeting with the funeral director, and writing Dads obituary, I had to run a few errands. The medical equipment folks came and picked up Dads things, and I went into his room and frankly, balled my eyes out. I felt I had to keep moving, so I set out to get myself together. 

Our neighbor has a 1 1/2 year old baby named Olivia. As I went to my car, for some reason, I was pulled across the street to see the baby as her Mother was putting her in the car. I was feeling so low, and just wanted to feel something good. As I visited with the Baby, she reached for me, and I got to hold her. Then she blew me a kiss. And I learned this was something she was just learning. I thanked her mother for the visit, and felt like I might be able to breathe for a little while.
I went out to the uniform store and bought gloves and a tie for Dad for his uniform, and then I drove to work in Atlantic City. As I had to retrieve the picture from above my desk. As I was driving, I started talking to Dad through tears, telling him I was in his town, and I needed him to send me a sign that he was ok. 
I realized it later that night as I was telling Mother about the time I had spent with Baby Olivia. The kiss was the sign.

2. The jacket—
Dad always wore a double breasted Burberry navy blue jacket with gold buttons to every big event. I was trying to figure out what to wear to his funeral, as I was certain whatever I chose I might never wear again. For some strange reason, Dads jacket popped into my mind. I went to his closet, found it, and put it on . And it fit . As I was going through the pockets, I found a program from a prior funeral Dad had attended for a dear friend. The funeral home was the same as I had chosen for Dad. I also found his Navy zippo and a chocolate bar from another friends wedding. My Dad had the worlds largest sweet tooth , so I felt like he was saving it for later.

3. The flag—
As I said earlier, we moved into a new home back in October.  On Thursday the landscaper contacted me wanting to do something to assist me or tribute to my Dad. There wasn’t enough time for plants, and all of a sudden the thought of a flag popped into my head. I shared it with the landscaper- and he agreed. As I was driving to go purchase it- a huge American flag came into view.

4. The hawk--

After my Dads military services concluded yesterday, we returned to the house, and I was outside with a friend visiting from New York. I look above the house and a hawk with a three foot wingspan at least is floating on a breeze and circling the house, and circling the the house. I thought- if it were an eagle it would be perfect. My friend said, as I was thinking it, " You know who that is, right?" I said yep. I have never seen that hawk before or since, as I write this it is now Sunday.

 I was worried about today, in the quiet spaces,  I spent some time alone to reflect, and we heard from Many old friends. It showed me how short life is, how rare my relationship with Dad is, and I am learning so much about families and people in general.  I will write a separate blog about the services for Dad, because it was quite a send off.

Now, Keith, Mom and I are patiently awaiting the coroners report on dear Bob, and waiting to see if he will be released to his family soon.  As we progress through this horrible week, with our broken hearts, we are trying to take comfort in each other, and our friends. 

I am currently left with a gaping whole in my heart, never to be filled, and a flood of uncontrollable tears that consume me out of nowhere about every hour or so. 

There are many Thank you's to say, and cards to send. I am certain to attempt to get to them this week, but I am going easy on myself, and allowing myself the time I need. I took this week off from work, and I hope to be able to at least get a little sleep.

Dad is still sending me signs- I see them everywhere. We spoke the same language, and a lot of people have recently told me how much I favor Dad in personality, and that is the ultimate compliment. 

Look for the signs, tell your friends, and family you love them, send the text, pick up the phone, and stay in contact. I know if Bob had not tried to escape from the world, I would be writing a much different story.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year , New Me.....

Hello Friends,

It seems I have abandoned this blog since April 2016!!! Shame on me!!! What can I tell you, I have been overwhelmingly busy.

I should take a minute to reflect on what has occurred since then.... Well, I am still  working at the hotel, I am still caring for my parents, Dad is now 87, and says hello every Saturday via my Facebook pictures, Mom is now 75, still in the wheelchair unfortunately, but sewing up a storm and trying to garden where she can.

Keith has been working for Harbor Freight for about a year and a half. He seems to like it, and wishes they would give him more hours. 

I still try and papercraft where I can. I did not get the Christmas cards completed this year.  Just over scheduled myself- like normal- and something had to give.

In March I joined LulaRoe as a retailer, and had some mild success. I have taken a break from my sales, since summer because my work life becomes hectic. Along the way, the company made some changes that were difficult for me to weather. I am still active with Lularoe, but not Actively selling currently. I want to keep the door open, as I put a lot of time, energy and $ into it, but currently, I'm not feeling it. I still love the clothes, and wear them daily, I just need a break, from everything really.

That is the feeling of 2017 for me- exhaustion. We had the best revenue year ever at the hotel, the daily needs of my family don't seem to slow down, and well... I turned 50 this year. It just takes more energy for me to accomplish everything. I feel genuinely blessed every day, for all of the things I have in my life, my family, friends, work I enjoy, and I also feel really tired, a lot.

So as I was organizing and cleaning the house today, I was thinking about how I can make 2018 a better year for me and my family.  I need to reduce stress, my doctor says, and I have made a lot of positive changes in 2017- I am now dairy free for 3 months- and there have been great benefits in how I feel. I also started acupuncture treatments, for stress and pain management. It's all helping, but I need to dig out the root of the problem to have a more healthful year. For me, that is stress, and the #1 culprit is financial stress.  With a brand new year facing me, I decided to face everything and rise, instead of Flee everything and run, which I have been too quick to do.

I have been trying to buy the house we rent since summer. It seems to be one setback after another, and none of it moves very fast. I expect to complete the transaction in January, but it will take some lifestyle adjustments to be able to enjoy this major milestone.

So- today , I made a budget. I have set up my coupon organization, and I have set some goals. There are few places in my budget where I can actually save money. Groceries is one place for sure. I went back and watched a lot of couponers, housewife financial planners, and such on YouTube. I came up with a basic plan, and then cleaned the house. I always like to start things fresh. Plus today it is snowing in NJ, so I took advantage of being housebound.

My goal is to save $200 in January,  I figure, I have to start somewhere.   My first project will be to make a coupon envelope to take to the stores with me.  I plan on doing this over on Ustream at about 4pm EST. I used to love to craft online with all of you.   So if you are interested in my 2018 New Year , New Me journey, I promise I will attempt to detail it on the blog, and hopefully have a stamping project or two along the way.

Happy New Year!

Hugs,
Laurel

Monday, April 4, 2016

Card Kit Divas - Facebook Swap group

Hello Friends,

 The feedback I have received from the Address Tag swap, has been great! I am so happy that everyone enjoyed receiving their tags. If I could ask a favor? If you have received your tags, please put a comment on the address tag post here on my blog. Just trying to keep up on who has received so far.

 Over the weekend, we were treated to a Ustream from the lovely Julia, sharing her Secret Sister Swap box from Robin. So many beautiful things, Robin did an awesome job! We all were chatting as we do, and Julia mentioned it would be fun to have a card kit swap. So, we created a facebook group for just that. It is a secret group, so if you want to be in the swap, it is a monthly commitment until the end of the year. You have to be invited to the group. We are taking signups until 4/15/16. Just let Julia or I know and we will add you.

 Here are the basics:

 A2 size card, you make one kit per participant each month. We recommend you make a card design for the theme of the month, take a picture of it, and upload it to your gallery on the group. This way when the swappers receive your card kit, they can have a point of reference for what you designed.

 Card Kits need to be mailed to me to be received by the end of each month. I will swap them out and mail back to be received by the 15th of the following month.

 If your card design, contains die cuts, you should include them in the kit. Likewise for stamped images. Basically, the recipient, should only need a basic class kit to complete, i.e. paper trimmer, ruler, adhesive, scissors, foam dots etc.

 If you are international, please join us! I will send you a PayPal invoice for your postage on a monthly basis. Domestic folks, please include the self addressed Stamped Envelope with your monthly submission. Postage should be the same amount to return to you plus $1.00.

 Here is my address:

 Laurel DeViney
 4 Hartford Drive
 Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234 USA

 Here are the monthly themes:

 April: Birthday

 May: Thinking of you/Get Well

 June:Summer

 July: Christmas

 August: Funny

 September: Sympathy

 October: Thank you/ Gratitude

 November: Friendship

 December: Congratulations

 Please design a card to suit the theme. It can be anything within the theme, get creative! Then create a card kit for each swap participant.

 If you would like to be added to the group, please send me your Facebook Name, and I will add you! Please send requests to ldeviney@comcast.net. Please include your contact details: e-mail, snail mail address, international- proper PayPal e-mail address.

 Thank you all so much!
 Hugs,