Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

Welcome to my cyber neighborhood coffee shop! Grab a mug of your favorite
beverage and a cozy chair to read and comment a bit. Be sure to try a piece of

black forest cake or the tiramisu. Try both; cyber-cake is calorie free!

Contact Nani at chroniclesofnani@gmail.com

Christmas Scrapbook Freebies

If you were visiting from Worldwide Christmas Scrapbooking Freebies, follow the
hyperlinks for Digitalegacies Designs' mini kit Christmas Cocoa
and the add-on Christmas Cocoa Flowers.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Creative Process

I've been doing my Project 365 as a scrapbooked diary for a few years now. I do the layouts with the daily journal entries and an assortment of photos, clip art, memes, cartoons and scrapbook elements. NFL playoff scores in early 2015 was the first appearance of the character I knew in my mind as "the Foxborough Fox." The fox was included three times in 2015 by the Pats' post season scores finishing sitting on a football near a “We’re #1” banner and the Super Bowl score.

As the Patriots started into the playoffs last January the Fox was back with the Patriots scores. I decided to have some fun with New England promotional items from the web. In one of those 2016 playoff results pics he's holding a Tom Brady doll and his name changed and his identity formed. He became Brady the Patriots fan and the image of a boy under ten years old. Giving him a personality gave me direction for molding him to be more than just a logo element. The Foxborough Fox was the same expression holding a Patriots sign. Brady is a superfan with all of his football fan stuff and the exuberance and team loyalty of a child.

I'll make a note of a couple things at this point. First off I'm creative and artistic but a different kind of creative and artistic than someone who sets pencil to paper and draws cute animals. My dad would always draw horses when I was a kid. It was just something he doodled. Every time I tried to draw a horse it looked like a dinosaur. I've been doing creative things for a half a century now and if I i try to draw a horse it still looks like a dinosaur… like a five-year-old trying to draw a horse, dinosaur. But I do well manipulating images. The Foxborough Fox is an element from a kit called Falling 4 U by Keystone Scraps.

The other thing is that I absolutely adore is watching young kids at sporting events and the unconditional love and loyalty they have for their favorite teams and players. So it's not a surprise that I would find an element that I really like and start manipulating that to turn it into it the character of an eight-year-old boy.

As this your started, I made the conscious decision to follow my #2 sport more closely and was therefore, even as the baseball season was ending, making a point of paying attention to MY favorite two teams. Brady was going to present both the Patriots and Lions scores every week. I started thinking, or may be overthinking but that's what I do, that Brady needed a buddy to watch football with and maybe it would be a good idea if his buddy was a Lions fan. So the search for Brady's best friend began. I found Brady’s BFF in At The Zoo by Mags Graphics.

As the season went on the characters developed, their friendship developed and the entire story of Brady and Ford formed and is still forming. For me it's just fun. “Knowing” the story of the week adds to creating the scrapbook vignette.

Brady and Ford are eight-year-olds in Toledo. They are 3rd graders in the Toledo Public School system. They live in the same neighborhood, just a few houses apart and are best friends.

Brady is an only child. His parents were originally from New England and they moved to Toledo when Brady's mom had a great job offer. Brady's whole family are Patriots fans and they get the NFL Sunday Ticket so they can see the Patriots games every week. Ford and Brady watch football games together at one of their houses. They often go to Ford’s house for the Lions games and Brady's house for the Patriots games.

Ford's dad works in Michigan and his mom works part time but she’s home in the afternoon when Ford gets home from school. The boys spend weekday afternoons at Ford's house. Ford has a big brother in college and a high school senior sister but, "she doesn't like football so she doesn't matter anyway."

That's pretty much the whole story right now. It grows as it needs to for the single frame cartoons with the football scores. David helped me develop Ford's family with Ford being his parents pleasant surprise baby. This came from a discussion that we had because he was surprised that my characters went to Toledo Public Schools. But they had to go to TPS because it was snowing on the Sunday that the network decided they weren't going to show the Lions game. I needed a reason for a snow sculpture. LOL

Week 16 was great fun for Brady who watched the game with his cousins when they were back East for the holidays.

It was a little rougher for Ford. No school meant he got to stay up to watch Monday Night Football but the Lions lost.

The creative process can be a never ending source of imagination and fun!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

It's 2017

I got out of the house yesterday and went to Dayton with David and Mike for BORTrail. There were many great train shows, including David's, his first sound show since 2012. He's been showing pictures and talking about them for the last few years. In 2012 I edited the music video on Stupid, my old Windows computer, using the software that's considered raIlfan standard.

The problem with raIlfan standard video software is the average raIlfan concentrates on taking good photos. The show software is easy to use but not exact. But I am a former video professional. I can't help the fact that I see tiny mistakes in video production and "good enough" is just not enough for me. The accepted software can edit deceptively exact, but the file plays differently in every computer. That means the show I was up all night to perfect in 2012 played with the photos and music out of sync. Regardless of what anyone else noticed, I was totally embarrassed. It was simple enough software that I told David I'd show him how to use it, but I would never edit with it again. I was looking for a good Windows movie maker that I could make a finished program and save it as a complete movie file. Well, the past 4 years have been pretty involved in a not so great way for me. I've been a little too busy to search for new software.

David and Mike grabbing a last of the year train pic on the way the BORTrail.

Fast forward to last week. As of September 2015, I'm a Mac-girl again! The MacBook Pro came with iMovie already on it. That's the software that I used professionally when I had my own business back in 2004. There hasn't been anything that I needed to do a music show for so I hadn't used it. The latest and greatest updated version at the time that I bought the MacBook Pro has been updated since 11 years prior so there were a lot of things that I had to learn and get comfortable with the new features and new interface. After a few screams and grumbles I was able to do the editing and even enjoy putting together David's music bed and show. I daresay I was even proud to be in the credits as the editor.

So between train shows, getting to watch a show that I edited and spending the afternoon and evening with men and women I truly enjoy being with and have terribly missed it was a pretty great ending to the year.

Today I'm wrapping up the last of my 2016 and getting ready to start 2017. That's probably going to take a couple days but it usually does. I just usually start that closing one year and starting the next at the end of the previous year not at the beginning of the next year. But after the way I started 2013, I will always remind myself that it beats starting the year in the hospital.

Welcome to 2017! There's gonna be more to come soon including my goals and projects for the year, some new ideas and the first freebie of the year. Stay tuned

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yes Nani, There Is A Santa Claus

Merry Christmas Eve and Happy First Day of Hanukkah! Boy, we got here fast this year. I'm sure the surgery at the beginning of the month can be blamed for the things that are late or didn't get done this year. Well, I'm blaming it for taking a week of prep time away from me. I can't bake anymore, at least not alone, and I've been sending other cookies or treats to the loved ones I'd sent those to before. I didn't this year and that makes me sad. I feel a little plowed under by the holiday season that sort of avalanched. Our Christmas cards are still here and will be sent out after Christmas as our way of extending the warmth and love of the holiday.

Last minute shopping I needed to do was thwarted by weather yesterday. How that happened on a dry and warmer day was that iced over packed snow at the end of the driveway turned to thick slush. My wheels slid around and got stuck and the bus driver had to help me out. That was at the beginning of about a 10-yard slush field. After backing me out I had to refuse the ride since we agreed there was no way I could get to the bus. I had asked David about making that trip after dinner. We had planned to go out to acknowledge our anniversary last night, but a combination of that slush on the wheelchair van, rediscovering that the old wheelchair, which is lower and fits at restaurant tables, is the "old" wheelchair because the seat is too short and is the reason why my hips are painfully twisted (they're worse now and it hurts more) and to top it off it was raining, cancelled the dinner plans too.

It's been a challenging Holiday season for me this year.

But there are many good things too.

For the surgical procedure to have happened at all it meant the blood pressure problem that saw it rescheduled in November is under control It was successful with no complications and visiting nurse says healing well.

I always put funds for a couple extra gifts in my Christmas budget for gifts for friends I don't always exchange with, RAKs, extra help for people I don't know or charity. I don't make a big deal about doing that because it's something I do for myself, it just makes me feel good. This year I didn't have time to spend that, but I did get an "emergency call" from a friend who I was able to help because of not having time to spend it. I gladly accept that there's a reason for everything

I ran out of time but I really wanted to make a single batch of gingerbread cookies. I spent years perfecting my gingerbread recipe to be exactly the cookies I wanted. I did that to my taste, I shared them with my holiday baking, but they were the cookie I made for me. One of my aides said we could make the dough one day and bake them the next. Unfortunately she wasn't scheduled to be in this week, so the cookies weren't made. However, if she's in the week after Christmas, we can still do a batch. I also accept that gingerbread doesn't have to be a Christmas cookie.

I did get all the presents I had planned on getting and I got them all wrapped. There were two boxes that were sent in the mail and I know that one of them made it today and I'm hoping that the other one did as well. David is picking up the breakfast pastries that I couldn't get yesterday and I will have those ready for Christmas morning. I've talked to Pop; there is a beautiful decorated tree to go with the fabulous meal he'll be serving tomorrow.

In so many ways it is felt like this holiday season is just another part of a gloomy year. But even in the darkest of times, the holidays bring out the best in everybody and the brightest of feelings inside all of us.  Yes Nani, there is a Santa Claus; but sometimes you have to look for him so you can give him a hug.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I'm joining Joyce at From This Side of The Pond for the Wednesday Hodgepodge!

1. Are you more task oriented or people oriented? Elaborate

As a former producer/project manager, I can't say I favor one over the other because both are equally important to get things done. I'm personally an outgoing introvert, which says "both" too; when I'm alone I concentrate on tasks I want finished, but I try to be very conscious of others, where they do their best, and by that enjoy what they're doing the most, when I'm working with a group. I've found that both personally and professionally making sure everybody is doing something they really love and do well make anything work better for everyone involved and is better quality in the end. So I guess that makes me a little more people oriented. I place great importance on the people who are doing the tasks and I believe that anything is better with a devoted group than it is alone.

2. December 15 is National Wear Your Pearls Day...do you own/wear pearls? If you're a man answering the question, does your sweetheart own or wear pearls? Everyone share a 'pearl of wisdom' with us here today.

I don't have, nor have I ever had, real pearls. I'm a shiny stones person. I have worn plastic pearls in the past.

"Pearl of wisdom?" A good psychologist will not solve all of your problems for you. A GOOD psychologist listens to you and asks you the questions you need to answer to solve your problems yourself. Any kind of real change or repair has to come from you. But don't ever be afraid to let a professional help you find the answers that you have inside.

3. Speaking of pearls...oysters? Are you a fan or not a fan? If you answered yes, tell us your favorite way to eat oysters? If you said no, be honest-have you ever tried one or does just the idea of eating an oyster make you gag a little?

I'm not an oyster fan. Honestly I don't remember if I've tried them, but I probably have at some point during my life. As a first generation American I tried a lot of weird stuff as a child. LOL I'm told I was a huge fan of calamari when I was little. I know what they taste like and there's no way I'd eat them now. So it's probable that I did try oysters at some time but the thought of eating an oyster now is kind of gross so I don't want to try them, probably again, to see if I like them. There are so many things that I enjoy that I see no need to try to add oysters to that list.

I do know that I have tried in recent years and don't like eggplant, Portabella mushrooms, sushi, tapioca putting, salmon or tilapia.

4. Time Magazine has named President-elect Donald Trump Person of the Year. Let's take presidents and presidential candidates out of the mix for a minute. If a political figure had not been chosen who would you name Man or Woman of the Year for 2016?

Time's Man of the Year in 1938 was Adolph Hitler. Hmm...

Nani Magazine's Person of the Year 2016 is Simone Biles. Incredibly talented, 4 Gold Medals and I was blown away with how tall she looks when performing.

5. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 has been announced, and it's a vibrant green aptly named-greenery. Your thoughts? Is this a color currently in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade for the new year? Click here to see the color.

Woo-hoo, Greenery! It's a great color and one I can say that I have a lot of in my house and in my wardrobe. I think going forward into 2017 with greenery as the color of the the year rekindles some of my hope that, at least the color copy of, the year will look good!

6. Today I've had too much SNOW!

There was a reported measurement of 9 inches at the airport Sunday afternoon into Monday early morning. There is still snow all over the yard every time I look out the window and it's COLD. So there's the winter. I'm good with that. Bring on the warm weather and bring the spring flowers. I've had enough of winter now.

7. Share a favorite lyric from a favorite Christmas carol.

I chuckled at this one because just last night I wrote down my top 10 Christmas songs for 2016 to put in my weekly journal.

Here is that list:

Unto You This Night, Garth Brooks *
Old Toy Trains, Joe Nichols
Let It Be Christmas, Alan Jackson
Candlelight Carol, Neil Diamond *
Away In A Manger, John Berry *
Ave Maria, Luciano Pavarotti
Hallelujah (Christmas lyrics), The Osmonds
Oh Holy Night, Jo Dee Messina
Mary Did You Know, Kenny Rogers & Wynona Judd
This Christmas, Dru Hill *

* songs that have been my favorite versions of my favorite songs for a very long time and are in the top 50 or so all time. The top 10 for the year is a combination of those all-time songs that really strike me in a given year and the new songs that I'm kind of obsessed about this year.

The Osmonds version of Hallelujah is with the lyrics rewritten to tell the story of the first Christmas. I think Hallelujah is a beautiful song but the original lyrics are about a relationship ending and questioning faith. I think the Osmonds version is much more appropriate for Christmas.

I heard Old Toy Trains for the first time last year and I absolutely love the song, the Joe Nichols version being, in my opinion, the best. That's the lyric I'm sharing today.

Old toy trains, little toy tracks
Little boy toys, comin' from a sack
Carried by a man dressed in white and red
Little boy don't you think it?s time you where in bed?

Close your eyes, listen to the skies
All is calm, all is well
Soon you'll hear Kris Kringle and the jingle bells

Bringin' old toy trains, little toy tracks
Little boy toys, comin' form a sack
Carried by a man dressed in white and red
Little boy don't you think it?s time you where in bed?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I've always loved this time of year. Personally I decorate for and share Christmas with my relatives and many members of my family. For me it's a celebration of spirituality, family/community and of children. I honor those as three separate holidays for church, national and a Hallmark holiday for the kid in all of us. As a Unitarian Universalist I also respect and enjoy the many other holidays celebrated at this time of year. I've been one of those dreaded "Happy Holidays" people since I bowled with Jewish kids when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

I'd love it if everyone could embrace saying "happy holidays" in public/with people they don't know and share the joy they feel from their holiday with everyone in a non-judgmental way. But I also like the idea of just not correcting anybody when they say a greeting whether it's "Merry Christmas," "Happy Hanukkah," "Merry Yule," or even " Happy Holidays." They are all greetings that say "I feel blessed and like celebrating and I want to share that good feeling with you." The best way to share the loving spirit of what you celebrate is to simply smile and say "thank you, you too.” Doesn't that capture the"peace" part of all of the holidays?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Flowers, Flowers, Freebies

Aren't they beautiful? David stopped to pick up a few grocery items, including a special holiday traditional treat for me, on the way home Friday. When he came in he presented me with a bouquet of bright Christmas-colored flowers! He hasn't brought me flowers in the long time. I hadn't been feeling like a Neil Diamond song or anything, but they sure make me smile every time I look at them!

Getting flowers is a nice introduction to me giving flowers to all of my digital scrapbooking friends! I might have mentioned when I released Christmas Cocoa for Worldwide Christmas Scrapbooking Freebies on December 1 that I thought it needed flowers and maybe something else.

Here are the flowers and a few leaves to add to this month's freebie kit!

Christmas Cocoa Flowers
Click on preview to download at MediaFire

The Christmas Cocoa kit is here,

 I hope you enjoy Christmas Cocoa. Stay tuned! I may yet have something else to add to this kit.