Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Don't mess with the office vibe.

Today I have a story about a time when I was a horrible, negative coworker. Things weren’t going the way I thought they would when I accepted the job, and I complained constantly. If you've ever had a coworker like that you know how annoying that can get in a very short time.

And it’s a story about a coworker that I really loved and respected. He was younger than me and worked in the capacity of the office’s massage therapist. He was also a certified yoga teacher {cool} and I loved his laid back, easy going personality. His sense of humor and kind demeanor made him the type of coworker everyone would wish for.
One day I was having a particularly tough time dealing with my perceived let-downs when my coworker did the unthinkable: he called me out on my attitude. He told me straight up that if I didn’t like working there I should just find another place to work because I was really messing with “the vibe of the office.”
And it was a big ouch because I knew as soon as the words left his mouth and hit my ears that he was absolutely, positively, 100% right. I had become that coworker and I felt so embarrassed and ashamed of myself in that moment. I remember going to the back of the office where I had a serious cry. His words were humiliating, but I knew he spoke the truth. And I knew I had to own it.
I did my best to turn my attitude around, and not long after that my awesome coworker left his employment at the office where we worked. I ended up staying for another couple of years before moving on to grass that I thought was greener. And even though things didn't work out as originally planned in that job, I learned more about myself during my tenure than any other place I've ever worked. The lessons, both personally and professionally, are some of the most important and meaningful of my entire working career.
A couple of months ago I shared this quote on my blog: “Treasure the friend who tells you a harsh truth, wanting ten times more to tell you a loving lie." ~ Robert Brault
Even though it was tough to hear, the words my coworker spoke that day were probably some of the most powerful words ever spoken to me. At the time I hated it, but in hindsight I realize what a gift it was. His blunt honesty helped me to become a different coworker and employee – even today.
For real, if you don’t like it do something else.
And dude, don’t mess with the office vibe.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Adventures of Me and My New Shoes

Hey, good morning, blog friends!
What a fun and busy weekend it was for me! I spent some time with my girl while Doug was away on a camping trip with his brothers, and I also enjoyed some time outside during a bit of a cold spell here. Well, not really a "cold spell," but not so stinking hot that you couldn't go outdoors for a while.

One of the perks of being me is that on occasion, OnlineShoes.com will send me some free shoes in exchange for posting a review on my blog. They recently sent me a cute pair of hiking boots and I needed to test them out, so yesterday morning I got up bright and early and headed over to Hole-in-the-Rock near the Phoenix Zoo.

The Phoenix Zoo is about a 20 minute drive from our house. It's cool that this place is smack in the middle of the Phoenix metropolitan area - a little piece of nature surrounded by the city. We had a thunder storm roll through on Saturday night, and even though I was disappointed to see clouds still hanging around on Sunday morning, it was actually to my benefit. I'd much rather be climbing this little mountain with clouds and 81° than blue skies and 100°+.

The trail leads up and around to the back side of this mountain, and it's so cool to reach the top and finally peer through the opening of the hole in the rock, revealing the zoo grounds and the city of Phoenix in its jagged frame.

Oh...here...let me show you the cute hiking boots that OnlineShoes.com sent me. I love that these are not your standard brown hiking boots. Aren't they cute? They were really nice to hike in too - great traction on the soles and solid ankle support...

I was mostly alone during my time at Hole-in-the-Rock, save for a family with four small children who came and climbed around for a while. Once they had left I perched my phone on some rocks and took several shots using the self-timer. It is a miracle that A) my phone didn't tumble down the face of this rock mountain; and B) that I didn't tumble down the face of this rock mountain. My timer was set for 15 seconds, and each time I scurried over to my set point just in time to beat the shot. As you'll see in this next photo, I was able to take a nice shot (took about 10 of them), but hello? This is a post about the shoes and you can't even see them in any of my self-timer shots!

I decided to call it quits and head back down to my car. Just as I was leaving, a young couple had reached the top and I offered to take their photo, then asked it they'd take a couple of me. I explained to them that I'm a blogger and was doing a review of these boots, and it turns out that the young lady is a blogger too. It was fun to meet another local blogger, and you can see her blog by clicking here.

So, yeah. There's a shot of the super cute hiking boots, thanks to OnlineShoes.com. And here's a photo of me, thanks to the nice couple I met on the mountain...

The absence of sunshine and blue skies did make for some pretty photos, don't you think?

A big thanks to OnlineShoes.com for the really nice hiking boots! They're fantastic boots and I know I will get a lot of great use out of them. I also want to mention that OnlineShoes.com has outstanding customer service - they are just fantastic to work with, and I hope to have future opportunities with them as well. I did receive these boots free of charge in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions of these boots are my own. :o)

The final week of July 2014 is on our horizon.
Make the most of it, my friends!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Just a Quote for Friday

"It was a life, she eventually concluded, that had been lived in the middle ground, where contentment and love were found in the smallest details of people's lives. It was a life of dignity and honor; not without sorrows yet fulfilling in a way that few experiences ever were."
~ Nicolas Sparks, The Best of Me

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Sunflower Quilt Block for Jacky

Hello, dear friends!
It's time for this month's installment of Fiona's Friendship Quilt exchange. For the month of July, we each made a quilt square for Jacky. Now, there's one person I know on this planet who loves sunflowers as much as me, and it's Jacky. So when I read that her chosen quilt colors were rust/terracotta and green, I knew right away those would work well with a sunflower design.

Before I started cutting fabric I made a mock-up of my design with paper. The petals were cut randomly by hand and I placed them here and there until I liked what I saw.
Then I cut the pieces from fabric and used an iron-on fusible webbing to adhere the fabric to my base square. A zigzag stitch finished the edges.

The original center circle I'd cut just didn't look right when it came down to using that piece, so I cut a larger circle out of a lighter colored fabric and used that instead. I also put a piece of thin batting under that center piece to give it a little more dimension.

Oh, and the solid background fabric came from my mom's fabric stash. :o)

It is bittersweet that this project is going to end in two months. I'm excited to show you my last two creations, but need to wait until the recipients have them first. :o)

You can see the other squares I've created for this project by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunflower Cupcake Toppers

When my friend, Jenn, planned her canvas art party I offered to bring cupcakes. And since Jenn was hosting, I let her pick the flavor of the day. She chose vanilla and chocolate.

I knew I'd be working on a sunflower canvas that day, and since my own sunflowers are the main focus of my garden these days, I decided to make some quick sunflower cupcake toppers.

I used two punches to make the sunflowers. This flower punch is such a versatile punch! Layered and staggered with a large circle in the center, it makes the perfect sunflower. Punch the flower shape in red and use a smaller circle and it's a great poinsettia. I've also used this punch for other random flowers and you can see those by clicking here and here.

Yummy vanilla cake recipe can be found here.
 And my favorite chocolate buttercream frosting ever can be found here. (BTW, I increase the cocoa in the frosting recipe from 1/2 cup up to 3/4 cup.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Juggling Gene

I remember it like it was yesterday…

We were all hanging out in the kitchen, and our mom was making dinner when my brother Ron announced that he had learned how to juggle. He proceeded to demonstrate and entertain us with three oranges pulled from the fruit bowl.
It was so fun to see him juggle! “Hey! How’d you learn to do that?!?!” the other siblings exclaimed as he reveled in the spotlight.
Then he had the bright idea to juggle eggs.
“Don’t you do it, Ronnie!” Mom called over her shoulder.
“Aw, it’s ok, Mom! I can do it! Watch…”
Three sibs watched in amazement as the eggs went round and round - all the while Mom was in the background saying, “Ronnie…put those down…Ronnieeeee…”
“Look, Mom!” he answered, “I’m doing it!”

Round and round went the eggs...
And then -splat!- just as Mom predicted, Ron missed one of the eggs he’d been juggling. And to make it an even bigger mess, the egg fell right onto one of the burners of the kitchen stove.
“You’re cleaning that up!” Mom said, and the four of us roared with laughter. Haha – our poor mother.

#15 - a juggler

Years later when I had entered the corporate world, I attended a team building meeting with my coworkers. At the beginning of the day, we were each gifted with a pretty wooden box. Opening the box revealed three juggling balls inside, and then the assignment was announced. We would each learn how to juggle, and the requirement was that we had to toss and catch the balls at least five times in a row in order to move on. How hard could that be? Right?
Some of my coworkers caught on right away, and the team building part of the exercise was that those who mastered the art of juggling had to help the rest of the group that was still struggling.
Well, wouldn't you know, I was the very last person to finally toss and catch those freaking balls five times. I bent over and picked up juggling balls so many times that my muscles were so sore the following day I could barely walk. And I haven’t touched a juggling ball since!
Obviously, Ron got all the juggling genes.

I know, it's kind of weird that the only photo I have of my brother juggling was in his hotel room while our families were together in San Diego, but it's the only one I took so I'm using it as item #15 for Rinda’s Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt. We spent some time in my brother's hotel room while tending to this little peach, my four-month niece, Olivia. Here she is, watching her daddy juggle.  :o)

Monday, July 21, 2014

This weekend's canvas art party

Hey there, blog friends.
Happy Monday morning to you!
Now you might be thinking, "Wow, that's a very cheery greeting for a Monday morning, Deb!" and I would agree. But this past Saturday was the best kind of Saturday ever. I'm still basking in that happy feeling you get when you spend some time doing what you love with people that you love. I'm so excited to show you...

When I created and posted the circus themed canvas art that I'd made for Carrie back in 2011, my friend Jenn started in on me. At first she wanted to pay me to make her that canvas, but Jenn is a crafter like me. "You can totally make a canvas like that," I encouraged her.
This past Saturday Jenn hosted a crafting party in her home, and I led some of our friends in the process of creating canvas art. I love the process of this art anyway - seeing the piece come together and kind of morph into something amazing is just so cool. It was so much fun for me to see my friends creating their own canvases, and to see their own unique personalities in each piece of art. This one is the beginning of Barbara's:
And this next piece is the beginning of Corri's. Corri has an amazing eye for color combinations, and I just love the colors she chose. She wasn't able to finish her canvas on Saturday because she had other obligations, but I just love the beginning of her canvas. She's making this to hang in her baby girl's room:

Oooh, and then there's Carrie's canvas. There are so many things I love about Carrie's piece. She used a gold stamp pad on her canvas, and she cut that guitar freehand. And! She loved the process so much that she wants to make another canvas soon. Happy Momfriend! :o)

My canvas in the beginning...big surprise...sunflower...
Here's Carrie's finished piece - complete with a quote from Jason Mraz. Another big surprise if you know my girl C.

Let me tell you about my friend, Jennifer. She is an elementary school teacher, and she has three little boys and a beautiful home and a heart of gold. And this girl is one creative spirit! I loved being in her home and seeing all of her sweet touches. Her artistic spirit and love for her family is so well represented there. This girl was determined to make this circus canvas, and she wore her 3-month old baby boy for a good part of the time.
We all agreed that Jett was the cutest wardrobe accessory we'd ever seen. This was Jenn's view of her canvas for a good part of the day: {PS: I held Jett a lot too, and we became very good friends. :o)}

Jenn's canvas in progress:

And then there's my artist friend Barbara. Barbara is one of the most creative and artistic people I have the pleasure of knowing. I knew her piece would be amazing! {Some of my Instagram friends know her as @mimrpic.}

And here are a few people-photos...

Jenn, Carrie, me, Jett, Corri and Morah. Still bummed we didn't get a group shot so Barbara could be in this photo!
:o) I loved creating this recap of our Saturday together, creating canvas art and holding sweet little babies. See why I'm in such a good mood this Monday morning? Love.
Wishing you a wonderful week, dear friends.
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